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‘I can’t wrap my head around it,’ Friends remember pastor found dead

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CHICKASHA, Okla. -- Early Friday morning, Dallas Morris knew something was off.

He looked across the street, like he always does, but didn't see his neighbor's flag flying or his dog sitting around.

After running a quick errand, Morris returned to find a crime scene.

Michael Walworth, 55, neighbor and local pastor, was dead.

"For something like this to happen, it’s shocking," Morris said. "Nothing like this happens here. It’s a great neighborhood. So for this to happen to him leaves everyone who knew him to ask: 'Why?'"

Police want to know that too. They spent the day investigating the area around First Missionary Baptist Church. Walworth's body was found burned just before 8 a.m.

Over the course of a decade, Morris -- a Pagan -- had come to know, love and respect the preacher.

"We’d have countless conversations," he said. "Religion, politics, he was a great guy. To be able to reach across lines like that, looking out for the neighborhood, seeing somebody’s having a bad day, telling a joke to cheer them up."

Walworth's congregation was largely composed of ex-convicts and people with problems.

The pastor had a way of connecting with them, the Baptist Missionary Association of Oklahoma told NewsChannel 4, adding, "he had a heart for helping people."

Walworth also had a criminal past. Records show he was a registered sex offender in Texas, pleading guilty to indecent exposure with a child in the 90s.

Neighbors paint a different picture of the man who ran the church.

"People like that, they’re rare," Morris said. "And for something like this to happen is devastating. He didn’t deserve this. He was a really great guy."