Crime | North Carolina

Hate Crime: Gay Couple's Home Burned Down


The house of a gay couple in Clayton, North Carolina has burned to the ground in an apparent arson crime. The couple have reportedly been victims of harassment from certain members of the community for more than a year.

WRAL reports:

Fire crews were called to the house on New Castle Ct., off Guy Road, around 1:30 a.m. Friday. The couple was out of town when the fire was set according to a neighbor and investigators. The couple was not at home when the fire started and are now staying in a motel. They asked WRAL not to reveal their identity out of fear for their safety.

Johnston County Sheriff, Steve Bizzell, confirmed to the station that the fire is being investigated as an arson. Bizzell said this fire does not appear to be related to a string of other suspicious fires in the area.

A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash against her, said there have been at least three separate incidents of anti-gay harassment at the couple's home. She told WRAL, a note with derogatory language was left in the mailbox, an anti-gay slur was written on the house with marker and the tires of a car parked in the garage were slashed, the neighbor said.

Sheriff Bizzell said that the his office was aware of two of those incidents, but would not say which two. He would not confirm whether they are related to the arson investigation. Bizzell said there are no suspects at this time. No other information was released.

Another neighbor in the subdivision said he feels sorry for the male couple because they lost everything. He and others in the neighborhood believe it was a hate crime.

Just awful. The couple, now homeless, is staying at a motel provided to them by the Red Cross.

Since the Red Cross is the organization that is currently aiding the couple, it might be best to contact the chapter in Raligh, NC if you wish to help them out. P: 919-231-1602, E:

Update: "Authorities are searching for a white Chevrolet S-10 crew-cab truck towing a small trailer, with a John Deere LA115 riding lawn mower and Troy-Built push mower. Investigators believe the mowers were stolen from the home."

Watch a local news report about the arson fire, AFTER THE JUMP.

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  1. @ratbastard: the more you talk, the more you do yourself in. im in full support of you continuing to troll.

    Posted by: mld | Feb 6, 2011 4:49:25 PM

  2. What is this, everybody gang up on Ratbastard day?

    If someone says something you don't like, say "I disagree because..." Don't launch into a full-arsenal flame war.

    Really, kids. Grow up just a little.

    Posted by: Max | Feb 6, 2011 6:13:14 PM

  3. @Kevin:

    Not to sound stalker-ish....Kevin S?

    I wondered who it could have been when I read the comment, and when I saw the name, I thought of you immediately.

    Robert R

    Posted by: Robert in SF | Feb 6, 2011 9:34:05 PM

  4. @ Ratbastard

    Most gay hate crimes are fake and self inflicted? ....who are you? Reading your comments on this thread it's clearly obvious your a wing nut zealot, sheepishly following the Beck clan. Do you realize how crazy you sound or do you do it purely for the reaction? Hey dude, I udnerstand not all of us have the luxury to leave the house every day and interact with other human beings and the internet serves as our only communication with the outside world, but try to dial the crazy down a bit. You're not only NOT making sense, you're also coming across ignorant, foolish, bigoted and ....funny. Your desire to "go against the grain" at all costs has left you spewing bullsheeeyetttt that is in fact NOT factual and divisive just to be divsive. Bigots always loose, because bigots always lack logic. Always remember that.

    Posted by: ZackNYC | Feb 6, 2011 9:58:02 PM

  5. O look, nut job Ratbastard turned yet another gay tragedy into one of his anti gay monologues. Effin gays with Daddy issues who can't accept being gay or other gay men- they are always the biggest eff ups in the world. This one being such a collosal eff up that he once suggested a victim of gay bashing did the bashing to himself for attention. That's how out there this gem of a poster is, whom I sincerely hope is connecting with us from some insane assylum. Get help buddy. There's professionals out there willing to help with mental disorders. Seek their services.

    Back to this tragic story, I hope gay people realize that our fight for equality is just starting and it takes each of us making an effort to be open, and out, and visible to create positive changes in future.

    Posted by: T.J | Feb 6, 2011 10:05:02 PM

  6. Awful. :(

    Posted by: Christopher | Feb 7, 2011 1:14:38 AM

  7. 3 years ago I moved into my current home in north Everett, WA. It took all of 1 month before I was called a fag in my own front yard. I have repeatedly reported harassment behvior such as car bass noise and cars slamming on the accelerator around the house, particularly during times related to LGBT news events such as the passing of marriage legislation in Iowa. I have reported incidents including being called faggot while going into my home (most recently I was told to go into my home faggot by a visitor of my neighbor while my mother stood on the front porch to witness. We both went to the city council meeting that evening to speak with the city police chief). There should be a support network in place in the LGBT community to hold police and legislators accountable to address these issues before someone loses a home or worse, their lives. I live 30 minutes from Seattle, WA, one of the most liberal cities in a liberal blue state with openly gay legislators and still, this behavior happens. We should do better, as a community, to stop this.

    Posted by: Richard Smith | Feb 7, 2011 2:29:35 AM

  8. I've said it before and.... North Carolina is the suckiest state: John Edwards, Mike Nifong, Fat Pam Spaulding, Michael Vick fan clubs, Jesse Helms, the New Black Panthers, Andrew Towle (not from North Carolina but is always sticking his nose in down there) and a lot of vicious self-hating left-wing gays like Andrew Belonsky embracing the very groups that hate him. Can't think of a single good thing that has come out of N.C.

    Posted by: JT | Feb 7, 2011 3:49:58 AM

  9. And I love the way you Towlies jump all over Ratbastard for his opinions, yet when others posted about how those girls in Kentucky (who turned out to be innocent) should have their vaginas sliced open with razors (and Manhattan gays posted their myspace pages) you said not one word in criticism....just smiled like gay grinning idiots.

    Posted by: JT | Feb 7, 2011 3:58:02 AM

  10. This story and a few of the things posted in the comments is why I made the decision to move out of a little town (approximately 15 miles out of Charlotte) in 1997. I have only been back a few times since then. I have considered moving back to be closer to my family but I am concerned about it. I guess if I had to move back I would choose Charlotte.

    Posted by: Randy | Feb 7, 2011 5:23:58 AM

  11. My husband and I used to live in a small very affluent town outside of Boston, MA and we've had our windows smashed by huge rocks, our tires slashed on our and our friends' cars, the words "faggots must die" spray painted across our garage doors, our home broken into many times and so on. We've had alarms, cameras and different lights installed but with no luck. I guess my point is that this sort of hate exists everywhere and the police who are supposed to be there to protect us turn a blind eye to things 95% of the time. I truly feel for these guys and while our home wasn't burned to the ground, to feel safer we sold our home and decided to move to the city. Our building has 24 hr security, a doorman and private underground parking. Being forced from my home stillets me quite angry everytime I think about it but our safety was my top priority. Seems as though this couple might have to consider doing the same thing.

    Posted by: RT | Feb 7, 2011 8:15:38 AM

  12. Seeing these stories and reading some of these comments makes me question whether this type of hate crime is a rural thing, a southern thing, a "poor white" thing, an uneducated thing, a difference thing...?

    Or all of the above in varying degrees with varying physical outcomes, situation-dependent.

    I have to conclude that homophobia is simply endemic in every strata of society to some degree. I've run into it in almost every social situation I've been in, including work, family, church, on the street and so on. Its going to take time, probably another 50 years or more, and even then we'll not be totally accepted. Blacks have been "equal" since the 60s and look at all the racism that still happens, 50 years later.

    Humans simply can't handle other humans that are different. It probably goes to our primitive core and is at some level a tribal thing. With all our societal improvements and technological advancements, we have still not evolved much over thousands of years.

    Posted by: johnny | Feb 7, 2011 9:53:56 AM

  13. These stories you all are sharing are INSANE. And proof positive we need to be FAR more active as a community to battle homophobia...we all need to put pressue on politicians, get out there and do out reach, COMBAT homophobia and constantly challenge it, join advocacy groups...RUN FOR OFFICE, RUN FOR OFFICE, RUN FOR OFFICE, and generally more supportive of fellow gays. The only way to advance a community is to grow in numbers and be PART of a community. There's too many gays who want to stand alone instead of standing together, and luckily that is changing with more gay people coming around and joining forces to DEMAND equality.

    For anyone reading this, you do NOTTTTTTTTT deserve to be treated any different for being gay and certainly do NOT deserve to be harassed for it! Do not stand for it!

    Posted by: JoJoCA | Feb 7, 2011 12:18:32 PM

  14. @ Richard Smith:

    Can you please kindly explain what actions you've taken against that neighbor? I can tell you, it's not legal to harass someone and hurl insults at them, especially when they are leaving/entering their own home. It is disturbing the peace as well as harrasment. What actions have you taken and what results have you gotten? I sincerely hope you're not just sitting back and waiting for that change to occur, as that neighbor needs to have some sense bolted in them, not just for you, but you serving an example for future incidents so they realize it will NOT be tolerated and gays are not as passive as that bigot thinks. Sincerely hope you are being active in challenging said neighbor.

    Posted by: JoJoCA | Feb 7, 2011 12:23:59 PM

  15. And stop with your fantasies about the "good ol' boy" homophobic south, gays. You don't even know who committed this crime yet. If you read back over the homophobic assaults and murders in this very blog you'll see homophobic hate crimes and murders in NYC. Atlanta and Austen, too, but.... And mostly done by people "of color."

    Posted by: JT | Feb 7, 2011 2:35:40 PM

  16. My husband and I live in Raleigh, and have always been a little leary going to Garner and Clayton. You could tell this from the news story when a neighbor had to go on camera wearing a hooded sweatshirt and darkened light to protect her identity, even though she was putatively straight. I suppose we feel lucky to have supportive neighbors who have been around us for the 15 years we've been there since building our house.

    The odd thing is that my husband's family is from a small town on the other side of Raleigh. And, they are all supportive. Mike Nelson, the former mayor of Carrboro and an early member of those elected to public office while they were out of the closet, told me that the quiet revolution is what we are doing. We live our lives simply and openly and converting opinions one at a time.

    The reaction to this crime, if it was truly perpetrated as we all think it was, has raised the spectre that this area is still not as tolerant as we have thought it was. Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill and Cary are fairly safe in our bubble at the bottom of the southern sea. Travel too far outside of that, then things can get weird.


    Posted by: dbearhug | Feb 7, 2011 4:21:26 PM

  17. @ Frank - "An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. For every gay home that gets burned down in a hate crime, let a church burn." - Like Dr. Martin Luther King's church? Or maybe the church Mother Theresa belonged to? Or maybe you should STFU and think before you write something so incindiary.

    Posted by: Hollywood, CA | Feb 7, 2011 4:51:53 PM

  18. HERE is how to help them!

    Send this letter demanding Investigations:


    Atty General Eric Holder
    NC SBI / Atty General Roy Cooper
    NC Gov Bev Perdue
    Johnston County Board of Commissioners
    ACLU Jennifer Rudinger

    Hate Crime Laws must be proven to have substance.

    Please step in and investigate the House Fire at 18 Newcastle Ct. in Clayton, NC. It is questionable that Sheriff Steve Bizzell too quickly made the determination, before completing the investigation, that this was Not a Hate Crime.

    With a suspect vehicle still at large, with the investigation uncompleted and less than two days later, with neighbors saying this is a hate-related crime, and with having had multiple incidents clearly motivated by Hate, two reported to Police, telling the residents to “leave”, leading up to Crimes such as what is being investigated as Intended Arson,…

    Then there must be a more carefully considered and Thoroughly Investigated process engaged before hastily dismissing the potential for Hate Crime Determinations, especially in small towns in the South involving Gay Victims by a Sheriff who is the son of a Pentecostal-Holiness preacher, and procedures should, moreover, be Applied Equally among All US Citizens in all cases.

    It does not appear that this has transpired affirmatively in this case.


    Copy Anderson Cooper

    Posted by: customartist | Feb 7, 2011 5:00:27 PM

  19. DBearhug : In Durham they love setting things on fire. Remember, in 2006, black-activist homophobe Victoria Peterson outside the Duke lacrosse house shouting for the New Black Panthers (who'd arrived to threaten the half-Jewish falsely-accused Seligmann) to "Burn it down!" Actually screaming to set a house on fire, not even knowing who was in there. And, then, last year, who gets arrested for setting a house on fire with her own children in it? Crystal Mangum herself. Those are the people you N.C. gays (as well as some Manhattan gays) supported with glee.

    Posted by: JT | Feb 7, 2011 8:42:29 PM

  20. And I forgot Bishop Eddie Long, while on the subject of the dump called North Carolina. Graduated from the same Durham joke of a school as Crystal Mangum herself.

    Posted by: JT | Feb 7, 2011 8:47:29 PM

  21. I don't want this to be true, but I'm really beginning to think the entire thing was a set-up for good old-fashioned insurance fraud.

    The couple is planning a move to GA. Their house was on the market for over a year before it was taken off about six months ago (unsold).

    Yes, there were reports of harassment, but they were fairy minor incidents that could have easily been faked.

    The couple was "out of town" during the fire but immediately reappeared.

    The one neighbor (?) coming forward to corroborate is refusing to be identified (which conveniently adds to the aura of menace in the neighborhood).

    Again, I hope this is NOT how it happened, because if it is, these guys have done grave damage to the ways some people see gays and hate crimes.

    Posted by: marcus | Feb 8, 2011 7:13:29 PM

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