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Black metal fan pleads guilty to church burning charges

Holden Matthews
Holden Matthews (Image credit: Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal)

In April 2019, 21-year-old Holden Matthews was charged in connection with starting fires at three historically African-American churches in the US state of Louisiana

Matthews, the son of a police officer, was arrested on three counts of arson of a religious building, with the incidents taking place in Louisiana’s St. Landry Parish country between March 26 and April 4 last year. Matthews was also later charged with hate crimes.

The case has now arrived in court, with the now 22-year-old admitting to starting the fires in an effort to raise his profile as a black metal musician.

Matthews has also entered guilty pleas for federal and state charges including the hate crimes levied against him. 

At his plea hearing, Matthews said he had targeted the churches to emulate similar incidents in Norway in the 90s and admitted to then uploading videos and photographs of the first two fires to Facebook.

Matthews will be sentenced on May 22 and faces between 10 and 70 years in jail for his crimes.

At the time of his arrest, The Daily Beast reported that Matthews’ Facebook page was alleged to have shown he was “active in pagan and black metal pages” and had commented on posts about Varg Vikernes, who spent 16 years in prison for the murder of his Mayhem bandmate Øystein ‘Euronymous’ Aarseth who was also accused of church burnings in Norway.