COURTESY OF JOSSALYN LARSON
This hateful slur appeared on a house in Crawford County, Missouri, just weeks before it was set ablaze.
Jossalyn and John Larson were driving by Gary Masten’s home in Crawford County, located to the east of Rolla, when they noticed the words "N**** Fucker" were spray painted onto the side. Shocked by the sight of it, they visited Masten’s home with paint in hand, offering to help cover up the racist remark. But the epithet wasn't all they found: On the back of the house, they discovered a badly-drawn swastika.
Working together, the three of them were able to obscure the graffiti but ran out of paint to completely cover the hateful message. Unfortunately, paint would soon be the least of their worries, as Masten’s house was burned down two weeks later.
Masten, who is white, lived with his son in their home just north of Cuba, off Highway 19, KSDK reports
. Police arrived on the morning of October 27 to find the home engulfed in flames. Multiple area fire departments ended up responding, including those from Cuba, Owensville and Bourbon, according to a Facebook post
from Cuba Fire Protection District. Masten told police that he and his family were not home at the time of the incident.
The Crawford County Sheriff's Office is in the middle of a preliminary investigation to find out whether the house fire is connected to the property damage, according to a press release from Crawford County Sheriff’s Office
Masten downplayed the racist message in an interview with KSDK
yesterday, and seemed to rebuff the suggestion that there was a connection between the bigoted messages and the blaze. “It’s some moron with a paint can. It’s got nothing to do with who actually lives here,” he said.
The afternoon after the fire took place, the Larsons created a fundraiser
through Facebook, labeling it “#NotInOurTown #StandUpAgainstHate.” At the time of writing, the Larsons' Facebook donations have reached $8,220, surpassing its $5,000 goal.
The Larsons wrote on the fundraising page
, "Fire Marshal and Sheriffs are investigating. They know where the fire began, and suspect that the fire is likely connected to the vandalism. This may also be connected to severe bullying at school. Local friends - talk to your kids and neighbors. Somebody is going to brag about this. Direct all leads to the Crawford County Sheriff's Department at 573-775-2125."
The Larsons added that the home's resident was "a cherished neighbor." "He is a 20 year Army Airborne Vet following a patriarch that was a Navy Seal who served at the Bay of Pigs," they wrote.
The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office did not respond to several messages seeking comment.
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