In the months leading up to a trio of fires that destroyed three St. Landry churches, the suspected arsonist shared on social media about his interest in "black metal,"a Norwegian music genre connected to multiple church burnings and anti-Christian values.
Those posts caught the eyes of law enforcement, as Louisiana State Fire Marshal Butch Browning said in a news conference Thursday that they were investigating the ties between the suspect's fervor for "black metal" and the fires he's accused of setting.
Holden Matthews, 21, of Opelousas, was arrested Wednesday on three counts of simple arson of a religious building. Investigators said he set overnight fires that destroyed three Baptist churches within 10 days. Officials said they're still investigating if there was a "hate motive" in the arsons.
His social media pages, however, indicate his fandom for the music genre that law enforcement is investigating.
In one post, Matthews shared that he was visited by Hel, the Norse mythology goddess of death, after Matthews performed an unspecified "sacrifice."
In another post, he wrote that he carved a Thor's hammer pendant from a bone after another Facebook user asked for advice on where to buy one. Thor's hammer is a Norse symbol connected to the god of thunder. The hammer also has modern day connections to followers of neo-Norse religions, such as Asatru.
"Although its traditional origins are non-racist, and although most Asatruers today are not racist, the Thor's Hammer symbol has been appropriated by neo-Nazis and other white supremacists, especially those who practice racist or white supremacist versions of neo-Norse beliefs under the guise of Odinism or Wotanism," according to the Anti-Defamation League.
Matthews also showed his devotion to the Norse god Odin through his likes on Facebook and his activism in a Facebook group called “followers of the old ways.” He liked multiple posts about the god of war, including a prayer to Odin that said, “you who chooses the slain, look on my deeds.”
Here are screenshots from his recent social media posts and comments.
Editor's note: Some of his comments were cropped to be closer to the original posts.