Louisiana Church Fires: Holden Matthews Denied Bail, Gets Hate Crime Charges

A Louisiana judge ordered accused church arsonist Holden Matthews be detained without bond after he allegedly lit three predominantly black churches on fire in a 10-day span, The Lafayette Daily Advertiser reports. Judge James Doherty reportedly denied Matthews’ bail after the district attorney added three hate crime charges to his existing arson charges—which Matthews pleaded not guilty to. The judge also cited concerns of releasing the 21-year-old before the completion of investigations into the fires by the FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. According to State Fire Marshal Butch Browning, Matthews may also face federal hate crime charges at the conclusion of the FBI/ATF probe.

Matthews was arrested last week in connection with the burning of three churches in rural St. Landry’s Parish. Officials claim Matthews intentionally set the fires, used gasoline as an accelerant, and documented some of the fires on his phone before and after emergency services were called. The Daily Beast reported that Matthews had followed black metal and pagan pages on social media, which were connected to neo-Nazism and white supremacy. Authorities are reportedly probing Matthews’ connection to the black metal genre. His next court date is reportedly scheduled for July.