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Suspect vehicle sought in Johnston arson

Posted February 6, 2011
Updated February 7, 2011

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— Johnston County authorities were searching Sunday for a Chevrolet pickup truck that might have been used in a break-in and arson at the home of a gay couple who neighbors say was the victim of harassment.

Authorities said that investigators are close to determining that the fire does not fit the state's criteria for a hate crime.

A Friday fire gutted a home in the Winston Pointe subdivision, off Guy Road outside of Clayton. Investigators believe that the home was broken into within days of the fire, Tammy Amaon, with the Johnston County Sheriff's Office, said Sunday.

She said that 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-Bilt push mower. Investigators believe the mowers were stolen from the home.

Anyone with information about the truck or mowers is asked to call the sheriff's office at 919-989-5010.

A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash, said there have been at least three separate incidents of anti-gay harassment at the home over the past year.

The neighbor said the couple had their tires slashed, a gay slur was written on their home in marker and they also received a note with a gay slur in their mailbox telling them to move.

Sheriff Steve Bizzell said his office is aware of two incidents at the house, but he declined to say if they are related to the arson investigation. He said the fire does not appear to be related to a string of suspicious fires in the area.

The couple, who did not want to be identified out of fear for their safety, was out of town at the time of the fire and is staying at a motel.

34 Comments

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  • jakegoad Feb 7, 5:46 p.m.

    If anyone wants to help the couple whose house got burned, the LGBT Center of Raleigh is helping with that (I just saw this message on their facebook):

    "ACTION ALERT! The LGBT Center of Raleigh will be accepting donations for the male couple that were subject to an outrageous hate crime in Johnston county. You may bring your donation to 316 W. Cabarrus St, Raleigh, NC 27601."

    "Household Items and Monetary donations are appreciated. Anyone interested in making online donations please do so on our website. Please include in your comments that the donation is to support the couple."

    http://www.lgbtcenterofraleigh.com/site/contribute

  • shortcake53 Feb 7, 4:20 p.m.

    I'm so sorry for this couple. No one has the right to tell them where and how to live. If someone in your area is doing something your not crazy about, ignore it and mind your own business. Unless it is something dangerous to everyone around them. I dont believe that is the case here.

  • unc70 Feb 7, 3:18 p.m.

    Probably they are looking for evidence that would link the fire with those earlier incidents, thus making it a hate crime. They have already concluded that it is unrelated to the string of house fires in the area.

    The breakin, robbery, and then later fire would not be a hate crime without further "hate speech" evidence at the scene and without establishing a link to those prior incidents at the house.

    Arson is a serious crime on its own, but often as part of or to hide other crimes -- murder, robbery, insurance fraud, etc.

    I suspect that there is growing evidence that the robbery and fire were not done by the people responsible for the earlier incidents.

    Just my guess, based on what little I see reported.

  • genralwayne Feb 7, 1:34 p.m.

    "So, if 2 houses in the same neighborhood burn, and 1 is "possibly" a hate crime, the other is pretty much put on the back burner? We're making emotions a crime?"

    Hmmm...an empty house is burned; probably as an act of vandalism. Then, the home and all the belongings of two citizens minding their own business and living their own lives are destroyed - and indications are that it was done by someone who disagreed with their lifestyle. And some can't see a difference between the two? This world is in a truly pathetic state.

  • Gidder Dun Feb 7, 12:55 p.m.

    MECU0905 & markyelka "THANK YOU SO MUCH" I am greatful for people like yourselves.

  • Gidder Dun Feb 7, 11:52 a.m.

    djhartm: You further lose credibility by not only bashing Christians, but by inferring they all twist God's word to suit their own needs. You fail.

    I never compared the two. I was referring to one sin is no greater than the other as many put it. I have not bashed Christians. I only posted my view point not to bash Christians. i only posted to point out that no one person is greater thatn the next. I apologize if I offended you. I do not mean to generalize all Christians.

  • btneast Feb 7, 11:41 a.m.

    No one said any crime would be put on the back burner

    So, you think there are extra investigators just sitting around waiting on something to do. The "extra" resources are investigators already working other cases. But that's beside the point, why does attaching an emotion to it make your house being burned down more important than my house burning down? Arson is arson.

  • djhartm Feb 7, 11:32 a.m.

    @Gidder Done: Attempt to debunk the Bible' (correct) views regarding homosexuality by comparing it to to a verse regarding shellfish is patently absurd. You further lose credibility by not only bashing Christians, but by inferring they all twist God's word to suit their own needs. You fail.

  • LovemyPirates Feb 7, 11:27 a.m.

    btneast - your comment shows why dichotomous thinking is flawed. No one said any crime would be put on the back burner so why would you jump to this conclusion. In any crimes has been put on the back burner it's been hate crimes.

  • btneast Feb 7, 11:02 a.m.

    treatment of a crime as a "hate crime" enables additional resources to be allocated to its investigation. It is not necessary to have anything more than the reasonable possibility that the crime could be hate related to give it the additional resources available

    So, if 2 houses in the same neighborhood burn, and 1 is "possibly" a hate crime, the other is pretty much put on the back burner? We're making emotions a crime? That's a mighty slippery slope......arson is arson, and it carries a stiff penalty. Attaching an emotion to it should not put extra resources on it (the extra resources come from pulling people off other cases).

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