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Evidence in the St. Landry church fires: See the photos

Posted at 5:43 PM, Jun 25, 2019
and last updated 2020-02-04 19:30:52-05

Federal prosecutors have filed pictures and other evidence related to the case against the accused church arsonist, records show.

Holden Matthews, the 21-year-old son of a sheriff’s deputy, has been indicted in state and federal courts for the fires that destroyed three Baptist churches in St. Landry Parish.  In federal court, he’s accused of three counts of intentional damage to a religious facility, and three counts using fire to commit a felony.

In state court, he’s accused of  two counts simple arson, one count aggravated arson and three counts hate crimes.

Federal prosecutors filed a packet of exhibits last week for a hearing that was held to determine if Matthews should have bond on the federal charges. He was denied bond; he already has been denied bond on the state charges.

You can see the evidence by scrolling down.

Among the pictures are pictures of the churches as they burned, and a collection of text messages purportedly between Matthews and someone else.

They present a picture of an immature person who thinks he is making a statement by burning Christian churches: Matthews allegedly says the arsons are “for all the oppression and suffering” Christians have caused.”

Among them is an exchange in which Matthews makes fun of investigators at a press conference held before his arrest. In particular, he singles out a quote that implies the arsonist burned the churches because their congregations were predominantly African-American.

“Baptist churches have a lot of wood on them lol,” the account identified as Matthews writes. “Catholic churches are like solid (expletive) rock.”

He also complains about how he “hates the media” and that “of course they are making it a race thing.”

He asks the other account if they are a “satanist” and asks if they “(expletive) hate Christians and their (expletive) church, right?” before sending a video.

The other account asks if the church was brick, and the alleged Matthews account responds “that’s all that’s left lmao, I had to go inside the thing to do it.”

In another exchange, he’s discussing record labels and band names with another account. He says he’ll tell the other person more when he sees them, but “I ain’t no damn poser, I practice what I preach. If you want to know what I’m talking about google Port Barre church.”

The other account says he shared the video with friends in Norway, and the alleged Matthews account sends lyrics to a song called “Burnt Offerings”

Starry night,moon is bright,soon the skies will fill with smoke

Fire spews, from the pews
Ancient gods it may invoke
His ravens caw, struck in awe
Pagan fires still burning bright
As the church falls, now ashes once walls
Odin smiles in pure delight
This is a war, you’ll know what for
2 thousand years of oppression
By dragons breath, church put to its death
Men of god face depression

When the other account complements him on the lyrics he responds that they “Miiiiight be based on real events lol.”

Norway is the location of the black metal artists who were convicted of arson in a string of church fires in Norway in the 1990s. One also served time for murder in the slaying of a band mate.

In another exchange, the alleged Matthews account appears to be having a conversation with someone in India who is doing some graphic design for his band; he sends them photos of one of the churches engulfed in flames, with the name of his band and a picture of himself in costume superimposed upon them. The India account asks if he did that, and Matthews says yes, “it was actually surprisingly easy.”

In other conversations, the alleged Matthews account says at about 1 a.m. on April 2 that he “might do another tonight,” and that he’s “not really scared there’s literally no evidence lol, no physical evidence” and that “It’s been a week and they still don’t know what caused it.”

The Greater Union Baptist Church burned the night of April 2.

The graphic artist tells the alleged Matthews account that he’ll get caught, and the answer is “Nah.”

“Dude this is for all the oppression and suffering they have caused to everyone. I want them to (expletive) understand it arson, I want them to be scared,” the account writes. “Pretty much every race every type of people in the world has been forced into becoming Christian. After this one I will be done for a while, they will watch the churches like hounds.”

Here are the exhibits: