Former friends of an arsonist who started fires in places of worship said that the woman had begun worshiping the Devil and practicing dark magic.
A 30 year old woman who set fires at St. Matthew's Lutheran Church and the Congregation Tephereth Israel in New Britain on Friday night was allegedly participating in devil worship and dark magic, her former friends said. Police are investigating Kimorah Parker, who set the fires 45 minutes apart last week.
According to WNTH, police said that an alarm went off at St. Joseph's Church, a place of worship near a church where investigators believe Parker broke in. Authorities added that they were alerted of a break-in at the church after the alarm system went off. Parker was also seen in the surveillance video near the churches. When police apprehended her, she had with her two lighters and religious documents and was wearing clothes that smelled of smoke. They believe that she took the documents from the church.
"It is a hate crime, if you will, that someone would do this," Pastor Mark Valigorsky of St. Matthew's Lutheran Church said, describing how Parker set fire to items on a lit stove inside the church and left them to burn while she "apparently got out of the building as fast as possible," the Christian Post reported.
According to a statement from the Congregation Tephereth Israel that was posted on Facebook, the church suffered damage to several areas, including an upper balcony, walls, and doors. The building is included in the National Register of Historic Places. A longtime member of the Congregation Tephereth Israel, Michelle Joyce commented that the damage must be inspected by an engineer.
"This building means a lot to me," Joyce told WTNH. "We grew up here. I brought my children here. It means an awful lot to me, so my hope is that they will be able to restore it."
Meanwhile, WSFB reported that two of Parker's former friends who were present at the courtroom on Monday as she answered the charges said that they were concerned she was practicing witchcraft and worshiping the devil. Luis Malave, who has been friends with Parker since she was just 15, said that she was practicing Santeria and witchcraft. Santeria is described by the BBC as a syncretic, "Afro-Caribbean religion based on Yoruba beliefs and traditions, with some Roman Catholic elements."
Malave said that Parker "starting worshiping Santeria and witchcraft," going as far as "putting in her home" items and "elements from our streets, breaking them and using them as part of rituals." He added, "[Parker] said that it's time for the world to change."
Malave also said that Parker also previously burned a Bible. He told her, "I just hope that God can touch you while you're in [jail] and make a change for you."
Another friend by the name of Caleb Newburry believes that Parker is "having a mental breakdown" and is "psychologically just not there." He added that the accused arsonist is "losing her grip on reality." Parker is now held in custody with more than $250,000 bond.