Johnston County authorities were investigating a fire Saturday that gutted a Clayton home and displaced a gay couple who had been victims of harassment for more than a year.
The couple, who did not want to be identified out of fear for their safety, is staying in a motel after fire ripped through their house in the Winston Pointe subdivision, off Guy Road, around 1:30 a.m. Friday.
They were out of town when the fire was set. A neighbor reported it.
The fire is being investigated as an arson, said Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell, but he said it does not appear to be related to a string of suspicious fires in the area.
A neighbor, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of backlash against her, said there have been at least three separate incidents of anti-gay harassment at the home. A note with derogatory language was left in the mailbox, an anti-gay slur was written on the house with marker, and the tires of a car parked in the garage were slashed, the neighbor said.
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