Premiering on Independent Lens, "Little Hope was Arson" tells the true story of a community struggling to understand what happened

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04 April 2015
Little Hope was Arson
Photos: Courtesy of PBS
"Little Hope Was Arson" Premieres on Independent Lens
Monday, April 6 at 10:00 PM ET on PBS
(Check local listings)
          On January 1, 2010, Little Hope Baptist Church burned to the ground in Canton, Texas, the buckle of the Bible Belt. Officials concluded the fire was caused by a problem in the century-old church's wiring. But when nine more churches went up in flames in one month, the largest manhunt in East Texas history was ignited. In this riveting investigation of a community terrorized from the inside out, families are torn apart and even Satan himself is considered a suspect. Directed by Theo Love, "Little Hope Was Arson" is an incredible true story of two boys with dark secrets and the community that raised them wrestling with forgiveness and justice. The film premieres on Independent Lens Monday, April 6, 2015, 10:00-11:30 PM ET (check local listings) on PBS.
          One of the highest-profile cases in East Texas history, the criminal investigation into the multiple church burnings took incredible twists and turns. Moments after Texas Rangers followed a young man named Jason Bourque into a local hardware store, a janitor found the words "Little Hope was arson" scratched in the store's bathroom stall. Bourque, 19, and his best friend, Daniel McAllister, 21, who had met as children in the Sunday school of a local Baptist church, were now the primary suspects. Once they were arrested and charged with the crime, the entire community -- from parents to pastors -- struggled to understand what happened and why.
          The son of Christian missionaries, filmmaker Theo Love grew up in Southeast Asia, worshipping most often in private homes or outdoors. "From the moment I read about these fires, I knew that I wanted to make this into a movie," said Love. "Not only was it a chilling mystery -- it challenged the very core of my faith. But I knew there was a redemptive story that could rise from these violent and tragic acts."
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