James Chastain, Theresa Chastain: 'Killer Clergy' -- Lethal Georgia Preacher Murdered First Wife In Fire, Planned To Kill Second

This week's Killer Clergy on Investigation Discovery is about the case of James Chastain, a Methodist preacher who killed his first wife, Theresa Gail Chastain, almost 40 years ago, and planned to kill his second wife, Luanne "Louanne" Chastain, a decade later. Killer Clergy's episode based on the Chastain case is titled "Ashes to Ashes." Viewers will see a reenactment of the case with commentary from law enforcement.

Killer Clergy: "Ashes to Ashes" on Investigation Discovery

A passionate preacher finds himself in trouble after a note with the plan to kill his second wife is discovered. And when investigators dig into the Methodist pastor's past, they believe that a number of suspicious fires and the death of his first wife may all be connected.

The Fire-Starting Preacher

Killer Clergy will begin their story with Pastor James Chastain and his work as a minister in several Methodist churches in Georgia. Always preaching with passion and fervor, Pastor Chastain was a stickler for his written notes, Killer Clergy's episode will show.

But what members of the congregation didn't know about their preacher was that he had a troubled past that followed him everywhere he went. He was married to a God-fearing woman named Luanne Chastain (Louanne), who seemed to be good for him. When they first married, James and Luanne Chastain were very much in love.

Plot To Kill

But his mood swings took a toll on the relationship, according to John Glatt's book For I Have Sinned. Over time, the marriage completely crumbled, and Luanne soon found out why. To her surprise, her husband wanted her dead. She discovered this by accident while she was cleaning their home. There was no doubt about it. James Chastain's plan to kill her was written out as plain as day and in great detail.

Luanne Chastain knew it was true because as she thought back, she remembered believing that he had tried to kill her twice before. Once, he set fire to their church home, but she wasn't there. On another occasion, he tried to smother her while she slept.

With the latest evidence, there was no point in trying to save their marriage. It became brutally apparent that if Luanne Chastain didn't go to the police, she would definitely end up dead.

Killer Clergy's coverage will show that police took the written murder plan seriously and questioned James Chastain about it. That led to police doing a background check, which uncovered that his first wife, Theresa Gail Chastain, had died in 1979, just ten years before.

James Chastain in prison for the murder of his wife. [Image by Georgia Department of Corrections]

In that case, Theresa Chastain, also known as Teresa, was inside of her mobile home when the fire broke out. During the research for this article, Inquisitr was unable to locate any old information about the fire. But Georgia court records found at Justia lay out the following facts.

"Chastain and the victim lived in a trailer located on a lot adjacent to the dairy where Chastain was employed at the time the crimes occurred. On June 18, 1979, Chastain arrived early for work and shortly thereafter his co-workers noticed that Chastain's trailer was on fire. Witnesses testified at trial that, although Chastain knew that his wife was in the burning trailer, Chastain seemed unconcerned and did not make much of an attempt to get into the trailer to save his wife. Chastain's wife died in the trailer fire."
James Chastain admitted to police that he had killed her but later recanted his confession, according to the Associated Press.

Take a look at a few more details about the Killer Clergy preacher.

  • James Chastain was diagnosed as antisocial.
  • His own family members knew that he had a tendency to set fires when he was upset with someone.
  • Chastain pouted constantly and held grudges against people.
  • According to For I Have Sinned, James Chastain tried to scare Luanne to death by leaving a rattlesnake in the home with her.

For his misdeeds, James Chastain was thrown into prison and sentenced to life plus 20 years for the murder of Theresa Gail Chastain and for the arson charge. Watch James Pierre Chastain's story this Monday, October 31, at 9 p.m. on Investigation Discovery.

James Chastain's story is similar to the story of James Castria, another deadly preacher who was featured on Killer Clergy.

[Featured Image by Photographee.eu/Shutterstock]