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Woman Who Set Fire to Church, Synagogue Was ‘Worshiping Santería and Witchcraft,’ Says Former Friend

kimorah parker
L: Kimorah Parker via News 8 R: Screenshot from Facebook / @Kimorah Arroyo

A woman in New Britain, Conn., has been arrested in connection with two fires that were set at a church and a synagogue the evening of Friday, March 11. Former friends of Kimorah Parker, 30, have suggested her actions were related to her pursuit of witchcraft and demonic rituals.

“She [started] worshiping Santería and witchcraft and all that stuff and that’s what she’s practicing,” Luis Malave, who said he’s known Parker for 15 years, told WFSB News. “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.” 

Kimorah Parker’s Bond Set at $260,000

Around 8 p.m. the evening of Friday, March 11, someone set fire to Congregation Tephereth Israel, a synagogue in New Britain. About 45 minutes later, another fire started at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church, which is less than a mile away from the synagogue. Following those incidents, the burglar alarm at St. Joseph’s Church went off due to a break-in.

On March 12, New Britain mayor Erin Stewart posted on Facebook that authorities had arrested a suspect in the case. She said:

Below is a message from the Federal Bureau of Investigations regarding the incidents of last evening:

Please be advised that the FBI is coordinating with the Connecticut State Police and New Britain Police Department (NBPD) with regard to the break-ins, one possible attempted break-in and/or fires that recently occurred at multiple different denominations of houses of worship in the City of New Britain, Connecticut.

Local police have arrested a suspect well-known to them and retain the lead over the ongoing investigations. No other incidents have been reported since the arrest. The FBI will continue to coordinate with local law enforcement and, pending further evidence collection, will determine whether federal charges are appropriate.

The FBI is unaware of any specific, credible threat to the religious community stemming from these incidents.

Stewart then said that the suspect was Kimorah Parker and that Parker had been charged with Arson 3rd Degree and Burglary 3rd Degree. Parker has a history of vandalizing other houses of worship, as well as of committing assault and larceny.

Parker, who has been put on suicide watch, was in court Monday, where the judge said that she posed a “significant risk to public safety” and set her bond at $260,000. The FBI is considering federal charges against Parker; she will return to court on March 28. 

No one was injured in the fires, but it is not yet certain whether the synagogue can be rebuilt. The repairs needed at St. Matthew’s are not extensive, but will be time-consuming. Pastor Mark Valigorsky said, “It is a hate crime, if you will, that someone would do this.”