Most of our readers are aware that Bilerico Project was started when I lived in Indiana, but I was born in Zanesville, Ohio. I have several family members that still live in the area, so this terrible story hits a little close to home.
Last Sunday, McConnelsville resident Brent Whitehouse was the victim of an anti-gay hate crime when his barn was set on fire. The arson killed all eight horses in his stable - including a pregnant mare and a week-old foal. Anti-gay slurs like "Burn in Hell faggot" were painted on the side of the barn.
"The barn I can rebuild, but the bond I had with those horses can't be replaced," said Whitehouse, of 871 Richard Lane. "Whoever did this had to walk right by all those horses, including the baby, and didn't care that they were killing a gentle, loving animal."
The flames were so hot a tractor inside the barn melted, Whitehouse said. Neighbors told him they could see the flames for miles.
Shane Cartmill, spokesman for the fire marshal's office, said when firefighters arrived on the scene, they quickly decided it was a crime scene due to derogatory sayings that had been painted on the barn and barn doors prior to the fire.
A reward of $5000 has been offered to help find those responsible. Anyone with information about the fire should call the State Fire Marshal's Office at (800) 589-2728 or the Morgan County Sheriff's Office at (740) 962-4044.