Former friends of a Connecticut woman who was charged with starting fires in a church and a Jewish synagogue on Friday said she recently went down a path worshiping the devil and practicing dark magic and is now in need of psychological help.
The woman, 30-year-old Kimorah Parker, allegedly set fires at St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church and the Congregation Tephereth Israel 45 minutes apart in New Britain on Friday night, police told WTNH.
Police said the burglary alarm went off at St. Joseph’s Church, another nearby church where investigators believe Parker broke in. Authorities said they were alerted of a break-in at the church after the alarm system was triggered.
Police also noted that Parker was observed on surveillance video near the houses of worship. When they picked her up, she was in possession of two lighters and religious documents with clothes that smelled like smoke. They believe the religious documents were taken from the church.
Pastor Mark Valigorsky of St. Matthew’s Lutheran Church further told the news outlet that investigators informed him that Parker threw one of the church’s planters through the church’s front window to gain entry.
“It is a hate crime, if you will, that someone would do this,” Valigorsky said.
He said the woman set fire to items on a lit stove inside the church then left them to burn while she “apparently got out of the building as fast as possible.”
As for the Congregation Tephereth Israel, a statement from the synagogue on Facebook said there was damage to a number of areas, including an upper balcony, walls and doors. The building is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Michelle Joyce, a longtime member of Congregation Tephereth Israel, told WTNH that damage to the building will need to be evaluated by an engineer.
“It means a lot to me, this building means a lot to me,” Joyce was quoted as saying. “We grew up here. I brought my children here. It means an awful lot to me, so my hope is that they will be able to restore it.”
WSFB spoke with two of Parker's former friends who were in attendance in the courtroom Monday as she answered the charges. They are concerned that she's been practicing witchcraft and worshiping the devil.
Luis Malave, who said he has known Parker since she was 15, said that she has been practicing Santeria and witchcraft.
Santeria is described as a syncretic, “Afro-Caribbean religion based on Yoruba beliefs and traditions, with some Roman Catholic elements.”
“She starting worshipping Santeria and witchcraft and that’s all that stuff and that’s what she’s practicing,” Malave said. “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.”
Malave accused Parker of having previously burned a Bible.
“I just want you to do right. Burning churches isn’t righteous. You already burned the Bible. I just hope that God can touch you while you’re in there [jail] and make a change for you,” he said.
Parker is currently in custody on a more than $250,000 bond.
On her Facebook page, Parker frequently shares videos from her home depicting what appears to be an altar in the corner of a room.
Another friend, Caleb Newburry, said he thinks she is having a mental breakdown.
“I think she’s having a mental breakdown,” Newburry said. “I think she is psychologically just not there. She is losing her grip on reality.”