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Donations needed for lesbian couple burned out of Tennessee home

MARYVILLE, Tenn. – Help is beginning to arrive to assist the lesbian couple from Vonore, Tenn., whose two-story home was burned to the ground on Sept. 4 while they were away.

Arson and hate crimes are being investigated after someone also spray-painted “Queers” on the couple’s detached garage, which did not go up in flames.

Carole Ann and Laura Stutte were in Knoxville, Tenn., when they got news about 10 p.m. that their home was ablaze. The Monroe County Sheriff’s Department is investigating the case along with the state’s Bomb and Arson Squad.

The couple have previously filed a police report about harassment and gay slurs from their next-door neighbor.

They have three dogs and an adult daughter living with them. They have told authorities that they are afraid to return to Vonore for safety reasons.

PFLAG Maryville is leading the effort to assist the couple. Donations of clothing, gift certificates and money are being accepted. For more information, call Becky Lucas, president of the local PFLAG group, at (865) 368-6665 or e-mail at rlucas@pflagmaryville.org.

The Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church of Knoxville is also collecting financial donations. Make checks out to TVUUC and write “Vonore Family Fund” in the memo line. Send to Vonore Family Fund, c/o TVUUC, 2931 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919.