While the “all-American college boys” arrested for a series of church arsons claimed they had committed their crimes for the fun of it – with no religious or political motivation – new reports from friends say the students dabbled in the occult and Satanism.

Benjamin Moseley, Russell Debusk, Matthew Lee Cloyd

Benjamin Moseley and Russell DeBusk, 19, were theater students at Birmingham-Southern College. Matthew Cloyd, 20, lived in the same dorm as DeBusk, an academic overachiever and son of a doctor.

Less enthralled with fame and film, Matthew Cloyd, 20, hooked up with the others when he and DeBusk lived in the same dorm.

An academic standout, Cloyd grew up a doctor’s son in Shelby County. His true love was deer hunting. But hunting was intertwined with alcohol, and a rebellious anger crept into Cloyd’s personality.

Cloyd wrote to Moseley last summer, as the two planned a road trip: “Let us defy the very morals of society instilled upon us by our parents, our relatives and of course Jesus.”

About the same time, DeBusk and Moseley started dabbling in the occult, according to a report by Religion News Service. They told friends they were Satanists on a hunt for knowledge.

The trio was arrested last Wednesday in connection with a string of church fires in central and west Alabama.

DeBusk had just signed on for the lead role in an independent film called “Work,” which was to make its debut at a local festival in September.

DeBusk and Moseley had a darker side, according to friends. They said they claimed to be Satanists, which, they explained, was “not about worshipping the devil, but about the pursuit of knowledge.”

Jeremy Burgess, DeBusk’s roommate, said he discussed religion with him.

“He told me I was one of the more intelligent Christians he’s talked to,” Burgess said. “Coming from a Satanist, I didn’t know quite how to interpret that.”

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