Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Eight horses burned to death in Ohio

A barn fire took the lives of eight horses in McConnelsville, Ohio.

A barn fire took the lives of eight horses in McConnelsville, Ohio.

Eight horses - one just a week old and another ready to give birth - died in a raging barn fire in Ohio that lawmen think was set because of hatred for gays.

Brent Whitehouse of McConnelsville said an orange glow outside his home on Easter night drew him to the horror.

"I ran out there, but the doors of my barn wouldn't open and suddenly, flames were shooting up through the roof. That barn was gone in five minutes," he told the Zanesville Times Recorder.

The flames were so hot a tractor inside the barn melted.

Still visible on the remains of the gutted barn's walls Tuesday were spray-painted epithets such as "f-gs are freaks" and "burn in hell," the newspaper reported.

Because Whitehouse is gay and fire marshals determined the blaze was arson, the scrawlings were enough for authorities to launch an investigation into whether a hate crime had been committed.

The value of the horses was said to be in hundreds of thousands of dollars but Whitehouse, who owns an insurance company in the tiny village in southeastern Ohio, was hurt far more by the loss of Elvis, Barney, Love, Bella and Ethel, Floyd and Princess and her week-old foal, Buddy.

"The barn I can rebuild, but the bond I had with those horses can't be replaced," said Whitehouse

"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," he told the newspaper.

"I just don't understand someone wanting to kill innocent animals. It's like killing a child."

Of the messages on the barn, Whitehouse could only shake his head and say, "They were hateful,"

A reward of $5,000,sponsored by the Ohio FAIR Plan Underwriting Association, was put up Tuesday in hopes it will bring information leading to whoever set the barn ablaze.


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