VONORE, Tenn. — A lesbian couple in Tennessee who home was burned to the ground last September, has filed a lawsuit against the woman they believe set the fire — their next-door neighbor.
Carol Ann and Laura Stutte feel they are victims of a hate crime, and were targeted because they’re gay — they found the word “queers” spray painted in large letters on their garage when they returned from a trip to Nashville to discover the charred remains of their home.
According to Carol Ann and Laura, their neighbor — Janice Millsaps — told them, “the only thing better than one dead queer is two dead queers.”
The complaint does allege taunts made by Millsaps that specifically targeted the Stuttes’ sexual orientation.
For example, a month before the fire, on Aug. 4, they allege, Millsaps, whose double wide mobile home rests about 20 feet from the gate leading to the Stuttes’ property, approached them as they stopped to close their front gate.
She poked at the Stuttes, alleges the complaint, and asked them, “Do you know what is better than one dead queer? Two dead queers.” The complaint notes that she then threatened to burn their house down, laughed, and returned to her house.
The Stuttes moved into the home in June of 2005. Police reports state that for years before the fire, Carol Ann and Laura were harassed by Millsaps, but no arrests were made.
In the complaint against Millsaps, the Stuttes are seeking $292,688.82 for trespassing and depriving them of personal property, and a total of $880,000, which includes damages for intentional infliction of emotional distress and malicious harassment.
The couple has been together more than 15 years.