A black Virginia Baptist minister who claimed he was the victim of a hate crime has pleaded guilty to setting his home and car on fire. Olander D. Cuthrell, 41, admitted that he poured oil and gasoline on the porch of his house back in March and set it ablaze. Cuthrell’s oldest son discovered the fire and extinguished the flames with water before it spread to the house.
Cuthrell, a minister of music at Good Shepherd Baptist Church, pleaded guilty to a felony arson charge for setting fire to the house and to a misdemeanor arson charge for lighting the vehicle on fire.
In order to lend credibility about the fires being the result of a hate crime, Cuthrell painted the n-word on two sides of his house. Despite his efforts, police said Cuthrell became the focus of their investigation within 10 days. He was arrested in early April, according to the Times Dispatch.
After his arrest, investigators discovered that Cuthrell was three months behind on his rent and had recently given his landlord a check that bounced.
Cuthrell has remained jailed without bail since his arrest. The felony arson charge carries a minimum punishment of five years in prison and a maximum term of life. He is scheduled to be sentenced in October.
It is unclear what motivated Cuthrell to set the fires because he did not own the house and never filed any insurance claims.