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May 20, 2011

Reward in horse barn arson grows to $22,500

McConnelsville, Ohio--Another $10,000 has been added to the pool of money for information on the anti-gay arsonist that burned Brent Whitehouse’s barn, killing eight of his horses, including a pregnant mare.

Ohio Mutual Insurance Group put in that $10,000, which joins $5,000 from the Ohio FAIR Plan Underwriting Association, $2,500 from the Humane Society of the United States, and another $5,000 from Jeffrey Gold of New York.

“Sometimes offering a reward is a tool that will help [keep investigations going],” Todd Boyer of Ohio Mutual told the Zanesville Times Recorder, noting that the fire “was beyond the scope of most of the cases the company sees. It was terrible.”

“As the property owner’s insurer, we would like to see those responsible held accountable for their callous and reckless actions,” Ohio Mutual vice president Kevin Rall said.

The April 24 fire destroyed the barn, burning so hot that it partially melted a tractor inside. What was left of the walls showed that they had been sprayed with graffiti saying, “Burn in hell, fag” and “Fags are freaks.” Whitehouse says the fire is a hate crime, and the county fire marshal’s office has already ruled it arson.

Whitehouse knew that his mare was ready to have a foal, so he was attentive when he heard a noise at 11:30 pm. He saw that the barn was burning, but was unable to open the doors to release the horses in time.

“I couldn’t get the door open. I could still hear the horses kicking and I tried as hard as I could to get them out and I just couldn’t get them out in time,” he told WHIZ Channel 13 in Zanesville.

Whitehouse was a horse breeder, and offers have come in to replace some of the horses killed in the fire. He plans to accept some of them to train and give to students who can care for them but normally would not be able to afford a horse.

He is also working on establishing a foundation to provide assistance to children who are abused and to victims of violent crimes in which pets are killed.

“Children and animals are the most innocent of God’s creatures,” Whitehouse said.

A man in Arkansas offered to let Whitehouse pick out any two horses he wanted; Whitehouse would just have to drive out there and get them.

Donations are also coming in to help him rebuild the barn; he has said that any remaining money will go to the victims’ foundation.

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