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Sheriff: No Sign of Hate Crime in Arson

Sheriff: No Sign of Hate Crime in Arson

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A North Carolina sheriff investigating the arson that destroyed the home of a harassed gay couple over the weekend said there is no evidence of a hate crime at this point.

According to WRAL.com, Johnston County sheriff Steve Bizzell said, "As the investigation moves forward, if we see any indication that the hate crime status applies, we will consider it."

Agents from the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives have joined the investigation into the early Friday blaze that destroyed the home of two men whom neighbors said had been harassed several times in the past year.

"Bizzell declined to comment on the current investigation but said his office was aware of two previous reports - one on Dec. 10, 2009, in which someone put a note in the mailbox saying 'move sinners' and a second complaint on Nov. 1 about a homophobic slur left on the back of the house," reports WRAL.com.

The couple was not home at the time of the fire and the victims have declined to speak with media. Sources say the men are planning a job-related move to Georgia, and that the house had been on the market but was removed after it failed to sell.

The fire was set from inside the house. Investigators continue to seek a white Chevrolet S-10 crew-cab pickup truck seen towing two mowers believed to be from the property.

Watch the report.

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