Former maintenance worker pleads guilty to racist graffiti, fire at KC church

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A former church maintenance worker at a Kansas City church pleaded guilty to spray-painting racist graffiti and setting a fire to cover up a burglary.

Federal prosecutors say 49-year-old Nathaniel Nelson admitted Friday that in October 2017 he set fire to an office in the Concord Cultural Center after stealing money to buy drugs.

Nelson, who is black, then sprayed a racial slur, the letters KKK, and a symbol like a swastika on the adjacent Concord Fortress of Hope church. Investigators also discovered that surveillance cameras in several areas had been unplugged and were no longer recording when the incident took place.

However, footage on a second, separate surveillance system captured footage of Nelson spray painting the graffiti, prosecutors say.

Nelson admitted in court that the fire and graffiti were meant to confuse investigators.

A sprinkler extinguished the fire before fire crews arrived. The church’s insurance company paid more than $330,000 for the damage.

A sentencing date has been set for Jan. 17.