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.

Scott Munro
Louder e-commerce editor

Scott has spent 35 years in newspapers, magazines and online as an editor, production editor, sub-editor, designer, writer and reviewer. Scott joined our news desk in the summer of 2014 before moving to the e-commerce team in 2020. Scott keeps Louder’s buyer’s guides up to date, writes about the best deals for music fans, keeps on top of the latest tech releases and reviews headphones, speakers, earplugs and more. Over the last 10 years, Scott has written more than 11,000 articles across Louder, Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog. He's previously written for publications including IGN, the Sunday Mirror, Daily Record and The Herald newspapers, covering everything from daily news and weekly features, to tech reviews, video games, travel and whisky. Scott's favourite bands are Fields Of The Nephilim, The Cure, New Model Army, All About Eve, The Mission, Cocteau Twins, Drab Majesty, Marillion and Rush.