Documents: Catholic church arson suspect wanted to deface 13 religious sites

Documents: Catholic church arson suspect wanted to deface 13 religious sites

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A Maryland man accused of intentionally setting fires at a Catholic facility and scrawling swastikas on a synagogue told his girlfriend he wanted to vandalize more than a dozen faith buildings, according to police documents obtained by a news outlet.

WHEATON, Maryland — A Maryland man accused of intentionally setting fires at a Catholic facility and scrawling swastikas on a synagogue told his girlfriend he wanted to vandalize more than a dozen faith buildings, according to police documents obtained by a news outlet.

Police arrested Andrew Costas, 28, and Rebecca Matathias, 25, Sunday on charges of defacing religious property, arson and malicious destruction of property after responders found multiple fires burning outside a religious facility last week, Montgomery County Fire and Rescue Service said in a statement.

The small fires were set April 8 at St. Catherine Laboure Catholic Church in Wheaton.

Matathias told investigators Costas referred to himself as “the anti-Christ,” Capt. Erin Wirth of the Montgomery County Fire Marshal’s Office wrote in charging documents detailed by WTOP-TV on Monday.

Worth added that Matathias said Costas “told her he wanted to vandalize three synagogues and 10 churches,” according to the documents.

The documents alleged the two lit homemade incendiary devices doused in gasoline and tossed them toward the church building. Investigators discovered ignitable liquids at the scene, police said.

Costas was previously arrested April 10 and accused of spray painting swastikas and “derogatory epithets” on a Rockville synagogue March 28, Montgomery County police said in a statement. He faces separate charges in that case, including defacing religious property.

It was unclear whether Costas and Matathias had attorneys who could comment for them.

Crux staff contributed to this report.

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