Black Metal Musician Pleads Guilty to Three Louisiana Church Burnings
A black metal musician has pleaded guilty to setting three Louisiana churches on fire. Holden Matthews -- the son of a sheriff's deputy -- now faces between 10 and 70 years in prison for the crime, which was intended to further his reputation in the black metal scene.
Over a 10-day period, fires were set to the St. Mary Baptist, Greater Union Baptist and Mount Pleasant Baptist churches, completely destroying each place of worship. According to reports, Matthews admitted to being inspired by the Norwegian black metal church burnings of the 1990s. The musician also apparently posted photos and video of the first two fires to Facebook.
"The Department of Justice will remain unwavering in its protection of the freedom to practice religion without the threat of discrimination or violence," said Assistant Attorney General Eric Dreiband of the Civil Rights Division. "Matthews admitted to setting fire to three churches because of their religious character. His disgraceful conduct violated the civil rights of the church's parishioners and harmed their communities."
"Holden Matthews made a conscious decision to randomly target and destroy churches within his own community. His atrocious actions inflicted severe pain and grief upon these congregations, as well as all of St. Landry Parish," said Special Agent in Charge Bryan Vorndran of the FBI's New Orleans Field Office. "Throughout this investigation, the men and women of the FBI, ATF, Louisiana State Fire Marshal's Office, St. Landry Parish Sheriff's Office, St. Landry Parish District Attorney's Office, Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Attorney General Jeff Landry's Cybercrime Unit, and the Florida State Fire Marshal's Office worked tirelessly to bring Holden Matthews to justice."
Matthews was arrested after a gas can found at the scene of one of the fires was traced back to his credit card.
According to one of the suspect’s friends, Matthews was upset with his parents for not supporting his path as a metal musician. The friend, Nygyl Bryyn, also noted Matthews was disheartened after being urged to improve the quality of his recordings.
Matthews is scheduled to be sentenced on May 22. Watch an ABC News report on the church burnings below. [via Blabbermouth]
Top 30 Black Metal Albums of All Time