A Tennessee same-sex couple set their own home on fire in an elaborate attempt to blame their neighbor and receive insurance money, the Knoxville News Sentinel reports.
Carol Anne Stutte and Laura Jean Stutte of Vonroe, Tennessee sued their neighbor Janice Millsaps for what they claimed was a homophobic hate crime against the lesbian couple.
Their home was burnt down in 2010 and the word “Queers” was spray painted on what was left of their garage. The fire shocked their town, and the couple took to the media and publicly blamed their neighbor.
The Stuttes claimed Millsaps used derogatory language and threatened to burn down their home on more than one occasion in the past. Specifically, the Stuttes claimed Millsaps berated her neighbors with statements such as “Do you know what is better than one dead queer? Two dead queers.”
The couple attempted to gain insurance money for their loss, but their insurance provider refused to pay any money after its own probe. American National, their Missouri based insurance company, even had Millsaps undergo a polygraph test, which she passed. The probe concluded there was not enough evidence to warrant compensation.
A jury in U.S. District Court this past Monday also found their was no evidence for these claims after days of testimony. The jury ruled against the Stuttes and concluded the damage was was self inflicted.
The FBI, local arson investigators and the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation thoroughly investigated the incident. Millsaps continuously denied any involvement with the blaze and the authorities have not charged her in any way.
The jury also threw out a counterclaim that the Stuttes insurance company as simply trying to escape paying any money.
While the couple has not been charged with arson, it is unclear what exactly will happen with their lawsuit against Millsaps.