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Holden Matthews

Louisiana Man Pleads Guilty To Setting Church Fires & Committing Hate Crimes In A Bid For ‘Black Metal’ Credibility


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22-year-old Holden Matthews pleaded guilty in court this morning, February 10th, to setting three churches on fire in early 2019 as well as committing several associated hate crimes in relation to the arson. Matthews entered guilty pleas to three federal counts of intentional damage to religious property and one federal count of using fire to commit a felony. He later pleaded guilty in state court this afternoon to three counts of hate crimes, two counts of simple arson and one count of aggravated arson.

Matthews was found to have burned down three churches (two in Opelousas, Louisiana and one in Port Barre) across the span of ten days back in March/April of 2019. The majority of the churches historically played host to African American congregations. Matthews himself is Caucasian. He faces up to 70 years for his federal charges and will be sentenced for them on May 22nd. His state sentencing is scheduled to follow on May 26th.

Investigators found that Matthews had set the churches aflame in a bid to bolster his profile as a black metal musician. The U.S. Attorney’s office said of the matter in a statement:

Matthews admitted to setting the fires because of the religious character of these buildings, in an effort to raise his profile as a ‘Black Metal’ musician by copying similar crimes committed in Norway in the 1990s. Matthews further admitted that, after setting the third fire, he posted photographs and videos on Facebook that showed the first two churches burning. Matthews admitted that he had taken these photographs and videos in real time on his cell phone, as he watched those churches burn, and that he had posted them to Facebook in an effort to promote himself in the Black Metal community.”

Interestingly, Matthews is the son of a Deputy in the Louisiana area. Investigators in part managed to track him down after tracing a gas can he used at one of the fires to a Walmart store. That purchase led authorities back to his credit card.

[via WAFB]

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