Officials in Ohio say a home explosion is being investigated as a hate crime after racial slurs and a swastika were found spray-painted nearby the destroyed home. The homeowners, an interracial couple who lived in the Sterling, Ohio house for 23 years, were in disbelief, WOIO reports.
Brad and Angela Frase were not in their home when it exploded around 12:30 a.m. on Wednesday, according to the Associated Press. They were staying somewhere else while the house was repaired after an electrical fire.
The home's electricity was shut off and gas was disconnected at the meter, WOIO reports. But when they arrived back at their home, it was on fire again – this time, the couple knew it would be a complete loss.
"We got here and this is what we saw, but it was in flames, you know? It was done, there was nothing that could be saved," Angela Frase told WOIO.
Then, they saw something even more disturbing: A swastika painted on a garage and two blue racial slurs spray-painted on their neighbor's cars.
"I got sick twice. That is what happened. It was like, 'This didn't just happen. I don't understand it,'" Frase said.
Investigators are now looking into the possibility of a hate crime. The Ohio Fire Marshall, ATF, FBI and sheriff's office are all working on the case.
"We are not gonna tolerate that kind of activity and behavior here," Wayne County Sheriff Travis Hutchison told WOIO.
The couple was questioned by investigators and said they have never had any problems like this in the past. If this is found to be a hate crime, they said they will not rebuild their home in this neighborhood.
"It just makes you wonder why ... Where do we begin again?" Frase said.