UPDATE: Police release description of missing vehicle belonging to NE Dallas murder victim

Earlier we told you about the two men found dead in a burned Northeast Dallas apartment. Police are still not releasing the victims’ names because their bodies were so badly damaged in the fire that they’re waiting on the medical examiner to positively identify them. However, police have now released a description of the vehicle belonging to one of the victims, which is apparently missing. The vehicle is a silver, four-door 2002 Saturn L200, with a license number of 5CVDN. If you see it, call 911.

Again, police have confirmed that they believe the two victims were a gay couple, but they aren’t treating the murders as a hate crime. Police also say they don’t know the motive for the crime, prompting some to question how a hate crime can be ruled out. We posed this question to DPD Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse:

“Detectives will not elaborate at this time,” Janse told Instant Tea. “It may hamper the investigation.”

—  John Wright

What’s Brewing: Maryland Senate kills gender identity bill; anti-gay hate crime at UNC

Quinn Matney was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime at the University of North Carolina.

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. For a third straight week, LGBT advocates plan to speak during the Dallas County Commissioners Court’s meeting today and call on commissioners to add transgender employees to the county’s nondiscrimination policy. Last month, commissioners voted to add sexual orientation but not gender identity to the policy. The Commissioners Court meets at 9 a.m. in the County Administration Building, 411 Elm St.

2. The Maryland Senate on Monday voted to kill a measure that would have protected transgender people from discrimination in housing, employment and credit — but not public accommodations. The vote marks the second major disappointment this year for LGBT advocates in Maryland, where the House thwarted a marriage equality bill last month.

3. A University of North Carolina freshman says he was attacked and severely burned in an anti-gay hate crime on the school’s campus last week. The UNC administration, which failed to notify students until a week after the attack occurred, now says it plans to report the incident as an anti-gay hate crime to the federal government.

—  John Wright

Lesbian’s Home Burned Down in Tennessee

Many of us who are LGBT have endured poor treatment — slights, looks, subtle hostilities.  Few of us have our homes burned down because of it.  This is what appears to have happened several days ago to Carol Ann and Laura Stutte, long-time life partners who have been together for 15 years and are raising a daughter in the small town of Vonore, Tennessee, just south of Knoxville.

This lesbian couple reported that they received numerous threats from a neighbor–including a threat to “kill them and burn down their house”–over the span of the five years they lived in the town.  On September 4th, their house was burned down to the ground and their garage was spray painted with the word “queers.

Gratefully Carol and Laura Stutte were away when the house burned. But they lost everything.

Police have confirmed that this was a case of arson.  Investigators are currently conducting interviews about the crime.  Tennessee has a hate crime penalty enhancement law that includes property hate crimes motivated by sexual orientation – the federal hate crime statute does not include property crimes.  HRC encourages state prosecutors to utilize this penalty enhancement when prosecuting the perpetrator(s).

Find out more about this horrible hate crime and to learn how you can help the couple that has lost everything.


Human Rights Campaign | HRC Back Story

—  John Wright

Tennessee lesbian couple burned out of home in suspected hate crime needs help

Venore, TN is reeling from what is being investigated as a hate crime against Carol and Laura Stutte, whose home was destroyed in a fire this week. The garage had “QUEERS” spray painted on it. The couple had been routinely harassed by a homophobic neighbor. (WATE):

Carol Stutte has an adult daughter from a previous relationship who also lived with them. At the time of the fire, they were in Nashville celebrating their fifth anniversary in Tennessee.

“My daughter was supposed to be here. She was sick,” Carol Stutte said. “I was grateful my baby girl didn’t get killed in this fire. She would have been trapped in the basement.”

…Carol Stutte says her partner is too afraid to come back to the property since the fire. She says they’ve been harassed all five years they’ve lived there by one neighbor.

She also says recently the neighbor threatened to kill them and burn down their house,” Stutte said. “I knew we had been threatened, but we never thought anything would be followed through.”

PFLAG-Maryville is getting the word out about immediate needs of this family for those who are asking how they can help.

The Stuttes have identified the following immediate needs:

  • Women’s clothing size 10 and size 16
  • Women’s clothing for college-aged daughter size 18
  • Women’s shoes size 6, 8, and 9
  • Toiletries (soap, toothbrush, toothpaste, deodorant, shampoo…)
  • Dog food for 3 dogs (Purina Dog Chow)
  • Women’s scrubs size small in both top and bottom (Navy Blue along with other styles/color)
  • Other items that could be useful…used laptop, tools, cleaning supplies, gift cards (dept. store, grocery, restaurant), storage tubs.

Options for donating $$: TVUUC, MCCK, Knoxville Pridefest.

A letter from activist David Massey is below the fold.


Sept. 10, 2010–David Massey Email

All,

Please forward this email to your friends and networks.
The two-story home of a lesbian couple in Vonore, TN, was completely destroyed by fire this past Saturday evening, and there is little doubt that it was arson. The word “Queers” was painted in large letters on the side of the garage. WATE covered the story; go to www.wate.com.

Efforts are underway to support the couple, Carol Ann and Laura Stutte, and their adult daughter.

First, the newly formed Maryville chapter of PFLAG (Parents Families & Friends of Lesbians and Gays) will be gathering needed clothing and household items.

Second, the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church is collecting financial donations. Please make your check payable to TVUUC and write “Vonore Family Fund” in the memo line. Send the check to Vonore Family Fund, c/o TVUUC, 2931 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37919.  This fund starts off with a 0 donation from the Knoxville Area chapter of PFLAG. Please include your email address so we can let you know how much money was raised.

Third, we want to be sure that the arson investigation is not swept under the rug, and there is reason to believe that it could be. If you know a Tennessee state representative or senator, please call that legislator and urge him or her to contact the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and express interest in the arson investigation at 2715 Highway 360, Vonore, TN 37885.

Fourth, join the campaign to write a letter to your local newspaper… or post messages on media websites … expressing your outrage at such hate crimes in the state.

Stay tuned for a possible “gathering of support” for this family.

David Massey

Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  John Wright