At dawn Tuesday, crime scene investigators from Overland Park were at work in a Cass County field where they had found a woman’s body.
By midmorning word was reaching the young leaders of a south Kansas City congregation that the woman was Tanisha Harris, a 38-year-old associate pastor praised for her great spiritual energy.
Adding to the agony at the church — Repairers Kansas City — came the spreading news that a man being held in the Jackson County jail Tuesday on suspicion of first-degree murder was Robert Harris, her 30-year-old husband, one of the church’s elders.
“I’ve cried all that I can,” Pastor Carlton Funderburke said inside the church Tuesday afternoon. “They were a loving couple. … They were a wonderful newlywed couple.”
Funderburke, 38, married them in July 2016, he said, consecrating a love that had bloomed in their work together at the church at 11802 Blue Ridge Blvd. There was nothing — “no signs at all” — that would suggested any trouble that could lead to the narrative that came in police statements.
Overland Park police reported Tuesday that officers were called to an apartment in the 8000 block of Perry Street around 4 p.m. Monday for a domestic disturbance.
A man in the apartment was alone, police said. But several hours later that man called on the police to return to the apartment and he told them his wife was missing. Upon questioning, police said, officers became suspicious, and the man admitted he had a role in her disappearance.
Around 2 a.m., the Raymore Police Department reported, Raymore and Belton officers met at 163rd Street and Kentucky Road to secure a crime scene for Overland Park and Johnson County investigators.
Overland Park later reported that the wife’s body was located there and that her husband had been taken into custody.
Police offered no more information Tuesday and deferred comments to the Johnson County Prosecutor’s Office, which provided no comment.
Investigators were also working at the apartment, which was cordoned off by yellow police tape. Detectives late Tuesday morning sorted through nearby trash dumpsters and searched a car in the parking lot. When a trash truck arrived, police sent it away.
Tuesday afternoon, members of the Repairers Kansas City congregation were coming to the church. Some of their cries were heard as Funderburke talked about the couple.
Tanisha Harris was part of a team of a half-dozen young people some seven years ago who were blessed and charged with starting a new congregation — branching from the It Is Written Evangelical Worship Center in south Kansas City, Funderburke said.
At that time Robert Harris, from Florida, was serving in the U.S. Army in South Korea and then stateside in the Northeast U.S. Along the way he came across the Repairers church online.
The church drew Robert Harris’ attention and he and Funderburke began corresponding. Harris visited more than once, met Tanisha, and after he was honorably discharged from the military, soon relocated to the Kansas City area.
Robert Harris became part of the church’s leadership. He was “Elder Robert.” She was “Minister Tanisha.” Their love for each other and their dedication to the church played out in numerous testimonies and pictures on their Facebook pages.
“They were part of the backbone of everything we do,” Funderburke said.
Tanisha Harris had just begun giving sermons during the previous year, he said. “She brought a passion, a simplicity,” he said.
She worked at a bank. Robert Harris worked at a hospital. They each had a daughter from previous marriages and Tanisha’s daughter lived with them in Overland Park, Funderburke said.
The “embers of romance” had sparked within the church, he said, and they celebrated their wedding in a large gathering — a spiritual ceremony — at the Greater Holy Temple in east Kansas City.
The Repairers congregation planned to gather Tuesday night. Just what they would do together, Funderburke wasn’t sure. But it would be in prayer.
“The only thing I know to do is pray,” he said. “Our faith in God is resolute. He is our refuge.”
Anyone with information regarding the crime is asked to contact the Overland Park Police Department or the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).