The fire took place over the Labor Day weekend in September, 2010 while the family was away. The fire is being investigated by the FBI as a hate crime. The women filed a lawsuit against their former neighbor last week. Via WBIR, Knoxville:
Two Vonore residents filed a suit against their neighbor on Tuesday saying their neighbor set fire to their home last September as a hate crime.
After the fire, Carol Ann and her partner Laura Stutte found the word "queers" painted on the side of their garage.
According to Carol Ann and Laura, their neighbor told them, "the only thing better than one dead queer is two dead queers."
The Stuttes moved into the home in June of 2005. Police reports state that for years before the fire, Carol Ann and Laura were harassed by their neighbor, but no arrests were made.
According to court documents, several times the neighbor threatened to poison the Stutte's dogs. The neighbor lured the dogs into the backyard of their home and gave them meat. One of the dogs died after an incident.
The documents also explain that the neighbor would come onto the Stutte's property without their permission. They would also watch the Stuttes through their windows.
When the neighbor was close to the Stuttes, they would say things such as they could have "killed them right then" and "there's bodies in these hills that no one will ever find." The neighbor also told Carol Ann and Laura that they had friends on the police force that would ensure they would never be caught.
In June of 2010, the neighbor accepted a delivery of an insulin pump which was meant for the Stutte's live-in daughter. The neighbor told both the Stutte's and UPS officials they had taken the pump, but refused to return it. The daughter and the Stutte's do not have the the money to pay for a new pump and the pump still has not been replaced.
The Stuttes decided to sell their home in August of 2010, one month before the fire.
Fire officials called the Stuttes while they were on vacation in September of 2010 to let them know that their home was a total loss after the fire. Several days later the Stuttes also noticed their trailer had been vandalized. When the Stuttes visited their damaged home, the neighbor laughed at the Stuttes.
The Stuttes are suing the neighbor for trespassing and conversion, intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious harassment.