(EDGE) A gay couple living in Canaan, Maine, who lost their home and seven pets in a fire last September, say the incident is a hate crime. Police disagree, the Portland Press Herald reports.
Brian Aldo Baldie and Ron Pelletier initially thought the fire that destroyed their home and killed their animals was started because of faulty wiring in their old mobile home, or because they accidentally didn't shut off the stove. But police revealed to the couple the fire was intentional.
"After they told me somebody did it, I thought, 'Well, I wonder if it's because we're gay,' " Pelletier, 71, told the newspaper.
The couple, who have since moved to an apartment, said they believe they were victims of a hate crime.
"Why would somebody break into somebody's house, take a little bit of money, a little bit of jewelry and then set the house on fire with the animals in there?" Baldie, 63, told the Press-Herald. "It doesn't make any sense. It would have to be a hate crime."
Local police said they do not consider arson a hate crime, however, Maine Department of Public Safety spokesman Steve McCausland told the newspaper. He added that investigators believe the motivation for the crime was over an alleged dispute about missing money.
Matthew Short, who resides in Canaan, Maine, was indicted last week for the incident on charges of arson, burglary and aggravated cruelty to animals. Short told police the couple took $150 from his mobile home, the Press-Herald reports.
The men, however, said they don't know Short and never took money from him, calling the allegations "crazy." Additionally, a police affidavit states Short told an acquaintance that he "didn't like the guys based on their sexuality."