Suspect in Church Burnings Linked to 'Black Metal' Music

Holden Matthews, a deputy's son, accused of burning 3 churches in Louisiana
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 11, 2019 1:32 PM CDT
Arson Suspect Linked to 'Black Metal' Music
This booking image released by the Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal shows Holden Matthews, 21, who was arrested Thursday in connection with suspicious fires at three historic black churches in southern Louisiana.   (Louisiana Office of State Fire Marshal via AP)

After police announced the arrest of a suspect in the burning of three black churches in Louisiana, two notable storylines emerged: First, suspect Holden Matthews, 21, is the son of a sheriff's deputy in St. Landry Parish, where the fires occurred. And, second, the sheriff says Matthews listened to "black metal" music and might have been influenced by "its associated history with church burnings," reports CNN. The local Acadiana Advocate digs into the history of "black metal," which it says began in Norway in the 1980s with the group Mayhem. The group's bass player, Varg Vikernes, was eventually arrested for setting church fires and killing a fellow member of the band. Vikernes served about 15 years for those crimes, per the Daily Beast, which describes him as a neo-Nazi.

The Daily Beast also reports that a Facebook page apparently belonging to Matthews showed that he engaged with black metal and pagan pages, and also made comments about Vikernes. Meanwhile, Talking Points Memo notes that the Southern Poverty Law Center identifies "national socialist black metal" as "extreme music" often linked to neo-Nazi and white nationalist themes. As for the other angle, Matthews is the son of deputy Roy Matthews, and Sheriff Bobby Guidroz said the elder Matthews was "shocked and hurt" at his son's arrest, per the Advocate. The deputy did not arrest his son, but he brought him to what the newspaper calls a neutral location where other officers apprehended him without incident. Federal investigators are looking into possible hate-crime charges. (More on the fires here.)

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