Unfinished Lives

Remembering LGBT Hate Crime Victims

Eight Horses Burned Alive in Ohio Anti-LGBT Hate Crime

Ruins of the barn where eight horses perished in flames (Advocate photo).

McConnelsville, Ohio – Eight quarter horses, one of them a week-old foal, perished in a barn fire on Monday in what a fire marshal is calling arson but neighbors are calling an anti-gay hate crime.  Brent Whitehouse, a gay insurance company owner who loved and trained horses, awoke late Sunday night to the roar of fire in his barn where his beloved horses were stabled.  He immediately called 911, but it was too late to save them, according to the Zanesville Times Recorder.  “I just don’t understand someone wanting to kill innocent animals,” Whitehouse said to Zanesville reporters. “It’s like killing a child. Those horses never did anything to hurt anyone.”  He is still in shock about the horrible incident that took the lives of Elvis, Barney, Floyd, Love, Bella, Ethel, and Princess and her month-old foal, Buddy.  Love was pregnant, and about to drop her foal, he said.  Whitehouse tried to break open the door of the inferno, while he heard kicking and screaming inside the barn.  It was impossible to free the horses. The heat was so intense, it melted a tractor inside the structure.  Volunteer firemen from the M&M Fire Department in Morgan County responded to the 911 call and fought the flames for two hours before bringing the fire under control.  Neighbors told the Times Recorder that they could see the flames licking the sky for miles away from the Whitehouse farm. A spokesman for the fire marshal’s office, Shane Cartmill, said that soon after arriving at the scene, they knew a crime had been committed.  Ugly epithets were painted on what was left of the barn, “Burn in Hell,” and “Fags and freaks” could be made out on the smoldering walls still standing.  The horses were valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but the impact of the crime runs far deeper than economic loss.  “The horses cannot be replaced,” Whitehouse said, because of all the love and training that went into each one of them. “Whoever did this had to walk right by all those horses, including the baby,” he went on to say, “and didn’t care that they were killing a gentle, loving animal.”  His friends have no doubt this was a hate crime associated with Whitehouse’s sexual orientation.  “They obviously don’t know him very well,“ his friend Bobbie Nelson said to The Advocate, “because he’s a sweet-hearted person and how he lives his lifestyle is nobody’s business but his own.”  The Human Rights Campaign was alerted to the possibility of a hate crime early, according to Jeremy Penrod, Deputy Field Director.  Penrod believes that the Matthew Shepard Act will likely not apply to this crime, because it was a crime against property, and not against someone’s life and limb.  HRC is coordinating efforts to support Whitehouse through Stonewall Columbus and Equality Ohio.  Citizens of Morgan County are responding with support of their own for a man loved and respected by his friends and neighbors.  The investigation of the horrific crime is proceeding, with LGBTQ advocacy groups closely monitoring the responses of fire and police officials. Whitehouse still cries when he remembers the tiny foal, Buddy. As he told the Times Recorder, “He was only a week old.  I just had him and his mother in the arena and he was coming up and smelling me and checking me out. He was cute as a button.”

April 26, 2011 - Posted by | Anglo Americans, Anti-LGBT hate crime, Arson, gay men, Hate Crimes, Heterosexism and homophobia, Human Rights Campaign, immolation, Law and Order, Legislation, Matthew Shepard Act, Ohio, Slurs and epithets, Unsolved LGBT Crimes | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


  1. So tragic

    Comment by David | April 27, 2011

  2. Heartbreaking….

    Comment by Jackie T | April 28, 2011

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