Horses Torched in Suspected Anti-Gay Arson
Eight horses, including a newborn foal and an expectant mare, perished in a blaze that authorities suspect was set as an anti-gay arson attack against the animals’ owner.
The fire destroyed a barn outside the McConnelsville, Ohio residence of openly gay Brent Whitehouse. Authorities found the remains of anti-gay slurs written in spray paint on the gutted structure’s walls, including the legends "burn in hell" and "fags are freaks," reported the New York Daily News on April 27.
The barn burned in an incident of what fire authorities say was arson on the night of Easter Sunday, April 24. Whitehouse, who was awake because one of the horses was near to delivering a foal, noticed the blaze at around 11:30 that night, reported Whiznews.com on April 25. He attempted to free the horses, but was unable to get the barn doors open. The blaze moved quickly, Whitehouse told a local newspaper, the topnews|text|Frontpage|Zanesville Times Reporter, killing all seven mature horses as well as a foal that had been born only a week before.
"That barn was gone in five minutes," said Whitehouse, who is the proprietor of an insurance company. The horses were worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, the article said.
But that wasn’t what Whitehouse found painful.
"The barn I can rebuild, but the bond I had with those horses can’t be replaced," the bereaved owner told the local press. "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."
Whitehouse said that he could hear the horses kicking inside the burning barn even as he struggled to get the doors open.
"I couldn’t get the door open I could still hear the horses kicking and I tried as hard as I could to get them out and I just couldn’t get them out in time," he told the media.
Friends condemned the attack.
"They obviously don’t know him very well, because he’s a sweet-hearted person and how he lives his lifestyle is nobody’s business but his own," Bobbie Nelson told the media.
"Whatever his sexual orientation was it had nothing to do with him as a person and to take it out on these innocent horses was beyond any fathom of what anybody should ever do to anybody," said Yvette Yeadon, who had worked with the horses.
The Ohio FAIR Plan Underwriting Association has offered a $5,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the person or persons responsible for setting the blaze.