Inmates explain why they torched East Texas churches

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by MARIE SAAVEDRA / WFAA

WFAA

Posted on May 15, 2014 at 8:28 AM

For six weeks, two men set fires to sacred places that seemed to never stop.

"Why?" asked Shirley Valadez of Dover Baptist Church. "This is the Lord’s house! And it’s such a shame someone can be such an unbeliever."

Baptist... Bible... United Methodist — it didn’t matter. Ten churches were swallowed by flames in the first months of 2010.

Seeing places of worship destroyed created heartbreak for each community near Tyler, Athens and Canton. Many couldn’t deny their anger.

"The person that did it, I hope they got enjoyment out of it, because they’re going to pay for it somewhere down the line," said Willbur Callaway of Dover Baptist Church. "God’s not going to let them get away with this."

Tipsters lead officers to the men who were later found responsible for the crimes. Jason Borque and Daniel McAllister are serving several life sentences for the damage they caused.

Four years after their spree, we’re now hearing why they did it. Both men spoke with our colleagues at KLTV in East Texas.

"I knew we were going to get caught," McAllister said in a jailhouse interview. "I mean, you can’t burn a church down and not expect people to wonder who did it. So I knew it was just a matter of time."

And why churches?

"We grew up breaking into ours all the time because it had a pool table and a foosball table, and we’d just go in there and hang out at night sometimes and play pool or something like that," Borque said. "I guess that’s what put the idea in our heads, and then we started breaking into other churches and stealing stuff. But he said something about burning them down because he wanted to cover the evidence up."

Both men also said prescription pills played a role in the decisions made in 2010 that they will pay for the rest of their days.

E-mail msaavedra@wfaa.com

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