Blackwell Police arrest self-proclaimed pastor and wife in alleged child abuse case
UPDATE: January 17, 2024 at 5:19 p.m.
The Blackwell House of Prayer has issued a statement and clarified information on arrests made in connection to child abuse charges carried out by a man who identified himself to police as "Lead Pastor" for the House of Prayer.
John Jack, Pastor for the House of Prayer, has stated that Keith Holt is not a "Lead Pastor", nor does he have any official title within the church, and that he has simply acted as a fill-in pastor on and off for the last several months.
"The Blackwell House of Prayer rebukes all statements and actions carried out by Keith Holt. The Bible speaks against child abuse or any mistreatment of children, and we stand firmly by that. The House of Prayer was also never made aware by these children of any indication that this was being carried out."
A man who identified himself to police as “Lead Pastor” at the Blackwell House of Prayer Church has been arrested for charges of alleged child abuse. His wife was also placed under arrest for allegedly enabling the violence.
Sometime in the beginning of January 2024, the Blackwell Police Department received information from the Department of Human Services (DHS) on a family that had left several children alone and went back to Arkansas, according to the Blackwell P.D.
DHS started looking into this family and found that they had 8 children and moved from Arkansas about 8 months ago. Over the last few days, several referrals started coming into DHS with concerns about what was going on in the house with the kids in this family.
According to information provided by Lt. Cory Ingram and Chief of Police Jay Brewer, on Sunday, January 14th the Blackwell Police Department and DHS went to the residence located at the 700 block of West Blackwell Avenue to check the welfare of the Children.
The parents allegedly refused to open the door. DHS and the Blackwell Police Department made another attempt on Monday, January 15th and still nobody would come to the door.
On January 16 th DHS and Lt. Cory Ingram went to the address to try and make contact with the children.
On this attempt, the parents answered the door and let DHS and Lt. Ingram into the residence.
After a short investigation at the house, Lt. Ingram had enough probable cause to arrest both parents for child abuse, according to the Blackwell Police Department.
During the investigation, it came to light that Keith Holt who identified himself as the Lead Pastor at the House of Prayer church located in Blackwell had been abusing several of the children in his home by beating them with a wooden board sometimes up to 40 times per beating and also locking them in the bathroom for several days without food and water as punishment.
This was allegedly common practice inside the house where all 8 children lived.
The wife of Mr. Holt is Candy Holt and she was also placed under arrest for enabling child abuse.
All of the children were taken into custody and will be forensically interviewed.
"This is a very large and complex child abuse case that could have up to 8 victims and has been going on for an unknown amount of time. The methods of child abuse were described as anything from physical abuse by beatings with a wooden board and a belt to being locked into a small room and not given any food or water for several days. This case is still ongoing at this time.," said Chief of Police Brewer
"The following charges will be sent to the DA’s Office for each Defendant with the current information that we have at this time. Other charges could be possible once the investigation is completed. If anyone has information about this case, please contact the Blackwell Police Department."
Keith Holt was arrested for child abuse, kidnapping, and child neglect. Candy Holt was arrested for enabling child abuse, kidnapping, and child neglect.
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