Holden Matthews has pled guilty to intentionally setting fire to three Baptist churches in the area of Opelousas because of the religious character of those buildings. Matthews set the fires over ten days in March and April of 2019, and each of the church buildings was destroyed.
Matthews admitted that he intentionally set fire to the three Baptist churches with predominately African-American congregations.
Matthews further admitted that he wanted to raise his profile as a “Black Metal” musician by copying similar crimes committed in Norway in the 1990s. After setting the third fire, he posted photographs and videos on Facebook showing the first two churches burning. He admitted that he took these photographs and videos in real-time on his cell phone as he watched the churches burn, and that he posted them to Facebook to promote himself in the Black Metal community.
Matthews will be sentenced on May 22, 2020. He faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years in prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 70 years in prison.