Horse News

Hatred Fueled Killing of Eight Horses

Editorial by Ginger Casey of the Columbus Dispatch

Social Intolerance Took Toll on the Innocent

Elvis is dead. So are Barney, Floyd, Princess, Buddy, Love, Bella and Ethel. They died on Easter, burned to death in their barn in southern Ohio, when someone set the building on fire after spray painting messages to their owner on the outside.

On a day when many were contemplating everlasting life and candy-bearing bunnies, Brent Whitehouse, who lives with his mother on a farm above the county fairgrounds in McConnelsville, woke to see a flickering orange glow coming from outside. Moments later he was tearing frantically at the door of his barn as flames burst through the roof. He could hear his horses screaming inside but could not get the door open.

The fire was so intense, a tractor inside the barn melted. But what was left on the building, still smoldering the following day, was the remnants of spray paint and its searing message: “ Faggots are freaks,” and, “Burn in hell.”

The Quarter horses Whitehouse raised were like children to him. He says he cannot understand why anyone could kill such innocent creatures. Well, whoever did it obviously thought they were making a point about Whitehouse’s sexual orientation. That because of who they thought he was, his horses deserved to die, shrieking in panic and pain as the flames ran through the barn. That because they thought Whitehouse is gay, his horses should be killed to make a statement about homosexuals.

Buddy was only a week old, standing on spidery, wobbly legs. Love was full with her own foal, due any moment.

The capacity for cruelty of this magnitude in the heartland of America should be a wake-up call for anyone who cares about the welfare of animals and the rights of all of us to love whomever we want. Killing these horses most assuredly killed whatever shred of decency might have been in the heart of the person or people who tossed the match. And now that they have murdered these beautiful animals, who knows where they’ll go next? Maybe Reno, Nev., where a couple of guys out drinking shot up a group of 10 wild Mustang horses with an AR-15 semiautomatic rifle for kicks a couple of years ago. Or Laramie, Wyo., where 21-year-old Matthew Shepard was viciously beaten, tied to a fence and left to die because he was gay.

Such disregard for life, such brutal allegiance to hatred of a particular class of people doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Or maybe it does. Perhaps the people who killed these horses were never taught to respect life as children; perhaps they never knew anyone gay growing up. And as we know, demons fill the void for most of us, demons and fear. It is only through the light of love and kindness that we emerge blinking and squinting into our humanity.

We can only hope, or pray, that those who live in the darkness of ignorance will see the light. McConnelsville is a small town in a small county of 13,000 people. Sooner or later, someone will talk, fueled by liquor and bravado, or by the incentive of the reward money, which grows larger every day. Then, whoever did this will be brought to justice. So we can say, as a people, that we will not stand for this. Not for these horses, not for Whitehouse or for anyone gay who wants to be able to live freely, openly and without fear in a country that was founded on personal liberty. But to do that, someone will have to step up. I will say my own prayer that someone will.

The message that was scorched onto the side of the barn is ironic because we already know who is more likely to burn in hell, if indeed there even is one. It most certainly will not be the man who loved these horses. But it most surely will be that person or people who walked past Elvis and Barney and Floyd, past Princess, Buddy, Bella, Love and Ethel, and set the barn on fire, knowing that when the flames began licking at their stalls, the horses would be trapped. With any luck, and by the grace of their own creator, these people will someday know that same feeling. For eternity.

46 replies »

  1. have there been any leads? & have there been any plans for a memorial for elvis, floyd, barney, princess, ethel, buddy, bella, & love?

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  2. I read this as a news article the other day, and it broke my heart. Excellent article. My heart goes out to Brent – he must be just devastated. Thanks for your writing about it. You do the story justice with your kind words.

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  3. My prayers are with Brent and his beloved horses.That is just terrible and i just have no words just disgust for certain humans. Rest in Peace, pain no more for those beautiful 8 horses.

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  4. I live in Ohio, this was devastating news , my heart and my prayers go out for Brent and his horses , nothing can replace Brents Horses but there is a full scale investigation, why is it that always innocent Horses are the brunt of someones hatred, whomever did this is a coward of the worst kind, This is one of those times that I am ashamed of some of the human race…………………….Rest in Peace Brents Beautiful horses……. Elvis, Barney, Floyd, Princess, Buddy Love, Bella and Ethel……………….And may be the perpetautors be brought to Justice…………….. swiftly…..

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  5. Thank You RT the story you wrote is beautiful tribute to a man and his love for his Horses…………………………………………

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  6. All I can do is pray for Mr. Whitehouse…nothing will fill the void left by the loss of his horses as a result of this horrendous crime! Just when I think I can no longer be surprised by the depths to which one person will go to kill the spirit of another, I read about something like this…
    May the persons responsible be brought to justice. And not a mere slap on the wrist!

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  7. I can’t not even begin to imagine how anyone would do such an unforgivable, horrid act such as this. This individual has exposed a diseased level of hatred that goes beyond whatever he spray-painted on that barn.This hatred must permeate his life…I can only hope he is caught, given the harshest punishment allowed in such a hate crime. I dread to think that he has any children or works anywhere he could be an influence on others. This is an act that is beyond belief!

    My heart goes out to Mr. Whitehouse and his family.

    Susan

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  8. Although incredible evil was visited upon him I pray that Brent can forgive and continue to fill his heart with love and not bitterness. For the person or persons who did this I doubt they can even imagine love.

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  9. I just finished a job where I worked with two gay men. One was a bit more noticeable than the other. But both were two of the nicest guys I have ever met.

    I learned something years ago in San Francisco. I had been taught in Church how “wrong” being gay was. This is what I learned. There is no difference between being gay and anything else. Gays worry about paying bills, having a roof over their heads. They worry about our economy and having some kind of retirement. And they put their clothes on same as you and me.

    What goes on in the privacy of someones live is just that. It’s there private life. Just like you don’t want someone cramming a lifestyle down your throat–gays feel the same way in reverse.

    In the final analysis its between the man upstairs and the people involved. People who live in glass houses should not throw stones.

    If you don’t like someone because you don’t respect them–don’t patronize the business. They’re better for you not bothering them. And your better for behaving yourself. When the man upstairs comes knocking on your door and tells you that you committed the bigger sin because of your actions what are you going to say??? That I was only standing up for what I believed in and for spreading You’re truth as I know it???? What about the first great commandment–To Love the Lord your God with all your might??? And right behind that one is To Love your Neighbor as yourself..

    If someone is cramming something down your throat then behave yourself.

    And for Pete’s sake why would anyone set fire to a barn full of horses because they don’t respect the owner???? What in God’s name did they do to deserve your hatred????

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    • Well stated Margaret. We need to expand this to all humans regardless of what type of difference they have from us.

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  10. Brent, my heart goes out to you. What a despicable human being one would be to do this to these beautiful animals, and one being only one week old and one ready to give birth. I don’t think there is another species worse than the human being. I hope this individual suffers the cruelest of life has to offer, and when his day of comes to see God, I hope he will die if fire even worse than what he put these beautiful animals through. THis is disgraceful. Anyone that would do this to the horses is a sicko, sicko. May he burn in Hell. I cried when I read this. R. T. your thoughts were beautiful toward this horrible human being. This is an example where a hanging would be too good to that individual. Brent, please help other horses. Your eight horses that you lost will be looking over you, guiding you, and wishing they were still with you, but loving you for helping their fellow animals. God Bless and I wish this/these horrible individual/s are brought to justice with the harshest of penalties.

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  11. I am so sorry for Mr. Whitehouse’s loss. Knowing that those animals suffered an unimaginable death will surely haunt us all. Hope they catch the murderer/arsonist and let justice be served. My justice would be different than that of the courts. But that is between me an my maker. I truly hope you get justice for this atrocity.
    With heartfelt sorrow,

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    • “Debbie,” or whomever you may be, I find your comment disturbing. The laws in our country exist for a reason, to deliver fair and just punishment. While life, and at times, the law, may not be considered fair or just, we must still act within the law and respect it. And as Louie stated, there is divine justice. God sees all.

      Just my opinion.

      Debbie

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      • We have a campaign here in South Africa – led by one of our leading radio stations
        and two of our leading daily newspapers – it is call LEAD SA. What they are asking is
        for people to report crime – no matter how big or small, it is done anonymously via a sms line. Believe me, someone else always knows what has happened and as a moral, decent person, they should stand up and let the authorities know.

        I feel for Brent and his lost family and sincerely hope that the perpetrator is found and
        gets what they deserve.

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  12. The irony is that when people do bad, wicked things other people say they are behaving like ‘animals’ or that they treat people like ‘dogs’. Personally I think it’s the animals that should be insulted at the comparison! A good person will treat their ‘dog’ better than some people will treat their fellow humans.
    Personally I can’t imagine treating man or beast like that.

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  13. This is such a disgusting act of hate, when I read it it made my heart sink, words can’t describe. I pray they catch these animals who did this

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  14. This broke my heart when I heard it. The human mind knows no boundaries when it comes to executing acts of atrocious cowardness. How anyone in his right mind would go to such lengths and inflict such torture to innocents is beyond comprehension. Yet, this coward and sociopath lives amongs us. The system must crack down on animal abusers, and may God help find these people who belong behind bars, away from society as they are a true threat to us. There are no words that can describe the horrors those animals must have endured and I do hope whoever did this will be found and prosecuted to the full and then some extent of the law.

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  15. Again, assumptions, human stupidity & cruelty knows no boundry. My heart and thoughts are with Brent, his Mom and those beautiful souls who left this earth in such a horrific way.

    Any animal/people abuser needs to be punished to the maximum. It is lax laws that they have no fear of prosecution. Those laws need to be changed in each state.

    Creatures are smarter than many humans, as they never act out of sheer cruelty or revenge. Which is why I detest people who commit atrocities to any living beings.

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  16. This is one of the most disgusting, cruel, & inhuman things I have ever heard or read!! The horses were innocent victims of a hate crime against a person. They loved unconditionally, & paid the ultimate price for belonging to the “wrong person”. This is SICK, &, OUTRAGEOUS!! I feel for the owner, who, no doubt loved his horses very much, &, for the sheer terror & awful pain those poor animals endured!! I hope & pray to God above, whoever is responsible for this crime, is caught, & is made to pay dearly, NOT just a slap on the wrist or a misdomeanor!! Actually, I hope THEY burn in HELL!! They certainly do NOT belong in society, if they did this to helpless animals, you can rest assured, they WILL do the same to a person!! I hope this poor man has police protection.

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  17. RT, thanks for the additional info on this horrific tragedy. I live in Ohio, not very far from where this took place. I was hoping a reward would be offered, and I read in one of the articles you linked that one has been,. It’s beyond comprehension how anything could lead a person to do something so terrible. My heart goes out to the owner and family of these horses.

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  18. I read this and was absolutely appalled at the viciousness of the crime. The thought of these horses burning to death and trying to get out is unimaginable. The poor baby only one week old. I can’t even go on to fathom the suffering of these lovely horses who were Mr. Whitehouse’s family. It still astounds me that someone would and did intentionally burn innocents all for racial bigotry and hatred. Please let me know if there is anything we can do to help Mr. Whitehouse. He did not deserve this, nor, did his precious horses deserve to suffer the flames of hatred. Rest in Peace Elivs, Barney, Floyd, Princess, Buddy, Love, Bella and Ethel!

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    • Can you imagine, that baby just born, was only allowed to live its precious life for one week. I cannot believe the heinousness of these people. I am heartbroken for this man.

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  19. Does anyone remember the hate crimes during the Civil Rights movement? Remember the little girls that were in the Church that was bombed by someone? Two decades later, the man that bombed that Church was caught. He had been bragging about it for years. His Granddaughter turned him in. JUSTICE WAS SERVED.

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    • How awful that anyone could do that to those girls. Justice was served. Let’s pray that this henious person can be found and justice is surved sooner than later!

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  20. The Wheels of Justice turn slowly, sometimes, BUT THEY DO TURN…sometimes in the strangest ways. As mere mortals, we can only do the best we can. There is, for certain, a Divine Justice that seems to work in its own way, in its own time frame. Only a fool would mock it.

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  21. This was not about owner or the horses, though they are the victims. This crime was committed by a sociopath. These are people who somehow get formed without a conscious or any degree of empathy. It is hard for people like most people to comprehend this type of personality or character disorder. Most of us who come to a site like R.T.’s or people who are willing to give so much of their humanity for a cause based on issues that go to the very heart of what it means to be human like Laura has for the horses and for the people who care about the horses, have an extraordinary amount of empathy and compassion. If not, we would not be spending our time and financial resources trying to save these profoundly generous and magnificent animals.

    I hope we don’t get too sickened by the evils that we see surrounding the animals that mean so much to us. It is easy to become cynical about human nature when you choose animal rescue as one of your life’s missions. I hope we do not lose sight of all the caring and compassionate horse and other animal people we know. Several of the people I know through equine rescue also foster dogs or other animals. There are boarders at the barn where I keep my two precious rescues, who will pick out horses who have medical issues or whose owners don’t appear very often, and they will trim the heavy coat of a horse with Cushing’s disease, or soak the bowed leg of a former champion.

    There are a lot of ordinary human beings who devote a significant amount of their time, talent, and other resources to improve the lives of their fellow creatures. We can not let the perverse acts of a sociopath or a mentally unstable state representative from a sparsely populated district in a sparsely populated state distort the way we see each other. Sometimes I wonder if SS is an adult version of that kid in the classroom who will do a absolutely anything for attention and who does not care for one minute how merciless and negative the attention is as long as someone notices that he or she exists and that he or she has some power.

    E

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  22. What a great way to portray this tragedy. I so agree with her. I grew up in Ohio, and she is correct, some day the bravado of these monsters will put them away. I hope the reward information is posted at every High School and Church and Post office and Grocery in the area….

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  23. I just read the article about the fire with tears streaming down my face. I am truly at loss for words for this unspeakable act of violence. I know this will not stop the pain and suffering but I truly believe the day will come when this individual or individuals will have to answer for this horrendous act of violence and murder. My heart goes out to Brent, his family and especially to the eight beautiful innocent souls who lost their lives. You are in my thoughts and prayers.
    Kim

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  24. SOMEONE KNOWS who did this. It will only be a matter of time before that “person” is found. We can only hope and pray justice will come sooner than later.

    Does anyone know if there is a reward fund we can donate to? Please let me know.

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  25. We are truly the cockroaches of the planet and capable of the most vile actions. Instead of saying what an animal we should say what a homo sapien. Truly the more I interact with non-human animals the more I become convinced they are the morally superior inhabitants of this planet.

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  26. All of us together here will find the Peace that all horses deserve to have of this i am sure…………… Combined efforts of Love and Understanding always prevail………….

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  27. No Animal on this earth would ever do this Hate Crime…………… Only a Human with a warped mind with hate devowering it……………

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  28. This just reinforces my opinion as a former equine cruelty investigator that there is no hope for the human race.

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  29. Hi Everyone:
    Here is the information for people who want to help catch the criminals who burned an Ohio gay man’s barn and killed his eight horses on Easter. There is also a fund for helping Brent to rebuild.

    Ohio Arson Fire and Horse Killings
    Arson Reward/Rebuilding Fund (specify which)
    Fiberglas Federal Credit Union
    ……215 Deo Dr
    Newark, Ohio 43055
    740-348-6250
    The accounts are being handled by manager Luke Kellett

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  30. It never ceases to amaze me to what depths humans will sink to get their twisted messages out. My heart aches for animals, especially horses, that are abused, mistreated and killed for no good reason; and for humans who have chosen a different way of life that doesn’t hurt or concern anyone else. For this fine man, who loved his horses and has lost every one of them, my heart aches for you. For these eight beautiful horses, who did nothing but bring joy into someone’s life, the pain of your torture and death is almost too much to think about. May you all rest in peace over the rainbow bridge.

    Like

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