A New Britain, Connecticut woman has been arrested for setting fire to a church and a Jewish synagogue on Friday.
Kimorah Parker, 30, is accused of breaking into St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church and the Congregation Tephereth Israel and setting them on fire on Friday night.
According to WTNH, Parker is believed to have also broken into St. Joseph’s church, where a burglary alarm went off, dispatching police. Police also later found that Parker was caught on surveillance cameras near the houses of worship.
Parker, who is a person of interest in other similar cases, was then arrested. When police picked her up, she had two lighters and religious documents believed to have been stolen from the church on her person. Her clothes also allegedly smelled of smoke.
According to The Christian Post, St. Matthew’s pastor Mark Valigorsky called the act of arson a “hate crime.”
“It is a hate crime, if you will, that someone would do this,” he said.
He added that Parker appeared to have set fire to items using the church’s stove and then left them to burn while she “apparently got out of the building as fast as possible.”
In a statement on Facebook, the Congregation Tephereth Israel noted that the “upper balcony, wall and maybe the stairs to the left outside the doors” appear to have been damaged in the fire.
On Monday, Parker appeared virtually before the court and was formally charged with arson and burglary. She is being held on a $260,000 bond.
“The allegations, in this case, do warrant a significant bond, given that they would support this defendant is a significant risk to public safety,” the judge said during the hearing.
While Parker appeared virtually, several others gathered in person in the courtroom on Monday.
WTNH reports that two of Parker’s friends, Caleb Newburry and Luis Malave, were present in the courtroom.
WFSB spoke to both men about Parker.
“She started worshipping Santeria and witchcraft, and that’s all that stuff, and that’s what she’s practicing. And that’s what she is putting in her home. She is taking elements from our streets, breaking them and using them as part of rituals. She said that it’s time for the world to change,” Malave, whose known Parker for 15 years, told the news outlet.
“I just want you to do right. Burning churches isn’t righteous. You already burned the Bible. I just hope that God can touch you while you’re in there [jail] and make a change for you,” he added.
“I think she’s having a mental breakdown. I think she is psychologically just not there. She is losing her grip on reality,” Newburry said.
The BBC describes Santeria as “an Afro-Caribbean religion based on Yoruba beliefs and traditions, with some Roman Catholic elements added.”
Britannica adds that Santeria is “based upon the development of personal relationships through divination, sacrifice, initiation, and mediumship.”
Photo courtesy: Ricardo Gomez Angel/Unsplash
Kayla Koslosky has been the Editor of ChristianHeadlines.com since 2018. She has B.A. degrees in English and History and previously wrote for and was the managing editor of the Yellow Jacket newspaper. She has written on her blog since 2012 and has also contributed to IBelieve.com and Crosswalk.com.