2010 East Texas church burnings

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In January and February 2010, 10 churches were burned in East Texas.[1]

Two local men, Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister, were arrested, pleaded guilty and were jailed indefinitely.


  • January 1 – Little Hope Baptist Church, Canton – ruled accident until investigation, later ruled arson
  • January 1 – Faith Church, Athens – ruled arson [2]
  • January 12 – Lake Athens Baptist Church – burned
  • January 12 – Grace Community Church, Athens – burned
  • January 16 – Tyland Baptist Church in Tyler – torched
  • January 17First Church of Christ, Scientist in Tyler – burned to the ground
  • January 20 – Prairie Creek Fellowship of Lindale on Highway 69 – arson
  • February 4 – Russell Memorial United Methodist Church in Wills Point (Van Zandt County) – destroyed the sanctuary (ATF soon confirmed the fire was the result of arson)
  • 8:30 PM on February 8 – Dover Baptist Church on Highway 110 outside Lindale – mostly destroyed
  • 9:30 on February 8 – Clear Spring Missionary Baptist Church, on CR 426 near the Smith-Van Zandt county line – found burning [3]


A sketch was released of three persons of interest.[4]

On February 21, 2010, Jason Robert Bourque, 19, of Lindale, and Daniel George McAllister, 21, of Ben Wheeler were charged in connection with the Dover Baptist Church burning on February 8. Their bond was set at $10 million. Because they targeted places of worship, the crime is a first-degree felony carrying a maximum penalty of 99 years to life.[5]

Bourque was raised by his devout Christian maternal grandparents, while McAllister was homeschooled for religious reasons. Both men had started to question their faith, Bourque following his dropping-out from the University of Texas, and McAllister after the death of his mother and trouble finding work.[6] Searches of their homes found documents relating to Satanism, of which symbolism such as upside-down crosses were found at the burned churches.[7]

Faced with overwhelming evidence, both men pleaded guilty. On January 14, 2011, Judge Christi Kennedy sentenced Bourque to life and 20 years in prison, and McAllister to a life sentence.[8]

On February 11, 2011, Bourque was interviewed by KLTV 7 from Smith County Jail. He blamed the drug Chantix, which he used to aid his quitting smoking, for psychotic episodes. He also claimed that McAllister had led the wave, targeting churches as he found them corrupt. Bourque stated that God had forgiven him.[9]

The two have been profiled in Torchered Minds, a book about serial arsonists.[7]

Cultural legacy[edit]

Theo Love's documentary, Little Hope Was Arson, interviews community members in East Texas reacting to the burning of the 10 churches.[10][11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Justice, CNN (February 11, 2010). "Two latest Texas church fires ruled arson". Turner Broadcasting System. Cable News Network. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  2. ^ Flowers, Rich (January 29, 2010). "Rewards related to church fires". Community Newspaper Holdings, Inc. Athens Review. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  3. ^ Livingston, Layron (February 10, 2010). "UPDATE: Communities on alert after 2 more churches burn". KLTV. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  4. ^ Staff, News 8 Austin (February 12, 2010). "3 persons of interest in Texas church fires". TWEAN News Channel of Austin. News 8 Austin. Retrieved 13 February 2010. 
  5. ^ 2 Men Charged in Texas Church Fire by Derrick Henry for the New York Times, published February 21, 2010; retrieved 6 November 2011.
  6. ^ McKinley Jr, James C. (March 1, 2010). "From Churchgoer to Charges as Church Burner". The New York Times. 
  7. ^ a b Nordskog, E. (2011). Torchered Minds. Xlibris Corporation. ISBN 9781465375544. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  8. ^ "Jason Bourque and Daniel McAllister: East Texas Church Arsonists Sentenced to Life | Houston Press". blogs.houstonpress.com. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  9. ^ "KLTV". m.kltv.com. Retrieved 24 October 2014. 
  10. ^ "Little Hope Was Arson". imdb.com. Retrieved 15 May 2015. 
  11. ^ "Little Hope Was Arson". littlehopewasarson.com. Retrieved 15 May 2015.