Houston Matters

Documentary Tells the Story of East Texas Church Arsons

Five years ago, eleven churches across East Texas were burned down. The rash of arsons over a five-week period from January to February that year put communities like Tyler, Athens and Lindale on edge. Some churches resorted to having volunteers spend the night at their congregations to try and prevent them from burning too. Two […]

Five years ago, eleven churches across East Texas were burned down. The rash of arsons over a five-week period from January to February that year put communities like Tyler, Athens and Lindale on edge. Some churches resorted to having volunteers spend the night at their congregations to try and prevent them from burning too.

Two young friends – Daniel McAllister and Jason Borque – were eventually arrested for the crimes, pleaded guilty and were each given life sentences.

A new documentary tells several stories in parallel: the stories of the fires, how they affected their respective congregations and the hunt for the arsonists. It also tries to unravel their still-complicated motives – was it hatred of religion, drug use or some combination? And it also tells the story of a Department of Public Safety communications officer who discovers her brother is one of the suspects and is faced with a difficult choice.

Michael Hagerty spoke with director Theo Love, director of Little Hope Was Arson, which gets its name from one of the churches that burned – Little Hope Baptist Church near Canton. He talked about how he got involved in telling these stories.

Little Hope Was Arson airs Tuesday, April 7, at 10 p.m. on Houston Public Media, TV 8.

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