Crime | Tennessee

Lesbian Couple Victims Of Arson, Anti-Gay Slurs

A lesbian couple's home in Tennessee was destroyed in a fire last week while the two were out celebrating their five-year anniversary of living in the house. Police suspect arson and believe the women are victims of a hate crime. The anti-gay slur "queers" was also found spray-painted on their garage.

Home The Daily Times reports on the harassment they faced leading up to the fire:

Carol Stutte said she and Laura have been being harassed and threatened, specifically by one neighbor, on and off for about five years. “The last in-depth threats were several weeks ago,” Carol Stutte said. The couple tried to ignore the threats, but eventually decided to file a report with the Sheriff's Office. “We tried to turn the other cheek and overlook it,” Carol Stutte said. “When (the latest threats) finally happened we thought we better go file a police report. (The threats) have really been scaring us for some time.” Carol Stutte said that, despite the arson, she has been blessed with support from people in the area, who want to help.

The couple are currently staying at a safe house and do not intend to return to what is left of their home. Meanwhile, police are still investigating and Tennessee Bomb and Arson Squad are apparently conducting interviews.

Watch a news report from WATE, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Comments

  1. Terribly sad, sounds like they lost everything. Pflag in TN is organizing donations for the couple:
    http://www.pflagmaryville.org/vonore-couple-needs-our-help

    Posted by: WayneMPLS | Sep 12, 2010 11:13:15 AM


  2. So, will Obama and the FBI use the Federal Hate Crimes law, finally, if the Tennessee authorities fail in their lawful duties. It shouldn't take a rocket scientist to solve this crime. We hope the couple doesn't back down, move, or give in to the hate and violence. Our thoughts and support are with them, and we look forward to swift and decisive action by the authorities.

    Posted by: Keith | Sep 12, 2010 11:59:27 AM


  3. This makes so so sad and angry. I hope the couple can rebuild and the trash (neighbor)?that did this are caught. Whatever happened to "love thy neighbor"?

    Posted by: Jon Lee Hart | Sep 12, 2010 12:02:15 PM


  4. It saddens me to read this account. In saddens me to know how challenging these circumstances can be in trying to live in harmony yet know you are in harms way. It warms my heart to know they have people stepping forward to offer support. It also baffles me that every one has turned their heads when we looked for support and Peace of Mind. Our neighbors have been constantly trying us to provoke us into prosecutable confrontation (the same family for 27 years) so they can call the Police (their friends) and charge me with something. We recently contacted a Mediation Service and asked them to sit down and tell us why they are harassing us and they refused to go.

    God Bless these Women and keep the safe.

    Posted by: Jerry | Sep 12, 2010 12:29:43 PM


  5. Somtimes I wish we did have a gay mafia.
    Just to let the hateful neighbor know what his house looks like burned to the ground.

    Posted by: Jonathan | Sep 12, 2010 12:51:04 PM


  6. It's appalling that these women were so targeted! I echo everyone else's sentiments that I hope the thug bigots who did this are caught, prosecuted and jailed for a LONG time. A message needs to be sent to others like them that they will be severely and unmercifully punished if they ever do this kind of thing!

    Jerry, I am sad too, to hear that you have been targeted for so long. I would say do what you can to report the harassment as many times as it happens so if (God forbid) something worse actually happens you have record of what these awful people are trying to do to you. What do the authorities say? Anything that can be done about this? Anyome higher than the police that you can go to to make it clear what is happening (mayor/representative or such)?

    Posted by: CKNJ | Sep 12, 2010 1:02:45 PM


  7. WOW......THOSE DAMN WHITE CHRISTIAN HOMOPHOBES!...GOTTA TRULY LOVE THEM!

    Posted by: HILLBILLY TENN | Sep 12, 2010 1:03:18 PM


  8. I live in Knoxville, TN. I work at a local television station with a close affiliation with Channel 6 and I'm thankful that they had the vision to air this story.

    This is very disheartening... When people describe the South, some of the most common words used are bible-thumping and biggoted. Having lived here my entire life, I'd like to think that this is simply an outdated view of a tradtionally conservative set of states, but however easy I've had it, being an out gay man sitting in the buckle of the bible belt, I am deeply saddened that this kind of hate and predjudice is all that is ever seen by the outside world.

    As a Southerner, I'm shocked and horrified by this, and my heart goes out to these women. I hope the guilty parties will be found and prosecuted under Hate Crimes legislation... No one deserves this, regardless of their race, sex, orientation, religion, etc. Why must they ruin the South by perpetrating such a hateful act of violence and intolerence? If we Southerners want the world to stop looking at us as rednecks and bigots, then its high time these malicious attacks stop.

    The South is a beautiful place full of history, culture and civility, but this... this makes me glad I'm moving away.

    Posted by: Patrick | Sep 12, 2010 1:04:22 PM


  9. Not only am I saddened about the arson, but Jerry's story is very upsetting as well. I guess I'm very fortunate to live where I live. All my neighbors seem to have no problem with me being gay.

    Patrick, I am a transplanted Southerner. I haven't gone back for a visit in five years, and I really don't intend to ever go back. I agree the South is a beautiful place, but it's not for me. I'll stay in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

    Posted by: Mike in the Tundra | Sep 12, 2010 2:23:47 PM


  10. This is horrifying and disgusting!
    Multiple newspaper articles have said one neighbor in particular has harassed them the entire five years they've been there including threats of killing them and burning their home. This MONSTER had better get what's coming to them!!!

    I've read multiple reports on this incident and not one mention on if the couple had homeowners insurance? Does anyone know? I sure hope they had coverage. I will be donating what I can to help out. Such a shame, it makes me sick to my stomach.

    Posted by: Paul | Sep 12, 2010 3:53:37 PM


  11. i will never understand this kind of hatred. i wish the couple peace, safety, and freedom from fear wherever they go. i'm sad that they were forced to leave, but their decision is understandable.

    Posted by: nic | Sep 12, 2010 6:13:13 PM


  12. CKNJ & Mike In the TUNDRA

    I am very moved that you have made the effort to offer your verbal support-thank you. That has not been the case. We live in a rural part of Pennsylvania and Hunting Season is around the corner. We have had a neighbor sit in a tree stand FACING our property, others hide in the bushes and dischard guns yards away. We have had gun fire commence when we exit our door to go for walks -like they have been waiting. What does concern us is that we could be killed and the perpetrators would claim it was an accident and get away with it. We were ambushed on our land by Gun fire coming from different directions while taking a walk some time ago. It was staged to harass us because we reported the Reckless gun fire to the Police . The Police snicker when they have come to our home. The have a difficult time when Gay people don't know their place. They have ignored, written correspondences, phone calls and a e-mail. I am starting a blog to share all the experiences and would hope that Towelroad could help me launch it. The purpose is to get support and to education the everyone as to the details of the obstacles Gay Folks confront.


    There is much more to this story. Thanks again

    Posted by: Jerry | Sep 12, 2010 6:36:08 PM


  13. As hate graffiti goes, I notice that at least it was neatly printed, and spelled correctly. I wonder if the building didn't have siding on it, if it would have been sloppier. It just seems odd.

    Posted by: Randy | Sep 12, 2010 11:20:44 PM


  14. I agree Randy....this story is odd. The truth will come out.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 13, 2010 4:46:52 AM


  15. I'd humbly suggest authorities look into possible insurance fraud here, assuming they have insurance. You can bet the insurance company is investigating. This story smells bad.

    Posted by: ratbastard | Sep 13, 2010 4:50:58 AM


  16. Dunno whether this is relevant but the KKK were in Tenn recently protesting against homosexuality, Obama, and illigal immigrants - as usual. Not many by any means, but you wonder if their appearance around the time has had anything to do with it.

    Posted by: EM | Sep 13, 2010 7:04:16 AM


  17. Yes Ratbastard, woe betide they might be telling the truth and that morons know how to spell 'Queers'. Sheesh.

    I don't dispute anything could be insurance fraud nowadays but you know, they could be genuine too. We'll have to wait and see.

    Posted by: EM | Sep 13, 2010 7:07:23 AM


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