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Last updated 4:58AM ET
March 8, 2021
Arrests Made in Rural Church Arsons
(APR - Alabama Public Radio ) - Two 21-year-old men have been arrested in a rash of church arsons and vandalism in rural east Alabama. Authorities said today satanic graffiti were scrawled at two churches.

Russell County Sheriff Tommy Boswell said, "These guys called themselves professed spiritual satanists."

State Fire Marshal Ed Paul identified the two in custody as Geoffrey Parquette and James Clark, both of the Smiths community in Lee County. Boswell said the men were not part of any organized group but had known each other a long time and dabbled in satanism.

Parquette is charged with second-degree arson, third-degree burglary and criminal mischief in Russell and Lee counties. Clark is charged with second-degree arson and burglary in Lee County.

A fire New Year's Day caused moderate damage to the Greater Peace and Goodwill AME Church in Crawford in Russell County, a fire early Thursday destroyed Greater Bethelpore Baptist Church in Smiths Station in Lee County and a fire Friday morning caused moderate damage to the Woodland Baptist Church in the Ladonia community near Phenix City.

Authorities said Woodland Baptist Church also was vandalized. A graveyard next to Bethelpore Baptist Church was vandalized and satanic graffiti was painted in a fourth church, Concord Baptist.

The arrests came just two years after another string of deliberately set fires at rural churches in west Alabama led to the arrest of three Birmingham college students.

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