Eight horses dead in likely hate-crime arson in Ohio

McCONNELSVILLE, Ohio – Eight horses, including a week-old foal and a pregnant mare, died in a blaze Sunday night in rural Ohio after an arsonist spray-painted “fags are freaks” and “burn in hell” on a barn and torching it.

The horrified property owner Brent Whitehouse tried desperately to rescue his horses, but the blaze was already out of control. He told authorities that he frantically tried to open the barn door, but the heat and flames were too intense.

“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,” Whitehouse told WHIZ News.

The flames were so hot that a tractor inside the barn melted, Whitehouse said.

"It burned to the ground in a matter of minutes," he said.

The horses were valued at hundreds of thousands of dollars, authorities estimated.

"The barn I can rebuild, but the bond I had with those horses can't be replaced," he told the Zanesville Times Recorder.

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

The State Fire Marshall’s Office investigated the scene and declared the fire was an arson. Because of the slurs spray-painting on the barn, authorities are also looking into the arson as a hate crime as well.

Bobbie Nelson, a friend of Whitehouse, told WHIZ News, “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.”

A reward of up to $5,000 has offered for the capture and conviction of the arsonist.