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‘I Just Needed to Let Off Some Steam’ Says Indiana Woman Arrested for Leaving Racist Note for Black Neighbors

An Indiana woman said she was just trying to “let off some steam” when she penned a racist letter aimed her new Black neighbors and their son. Now she’s facing charges.

Deborah Cantwell was arrested and charged with misdemeanor counts of intimidation and criminal mischief after police say she left a racist letter on the door of her neighbor’s recently purchased home, hoping that it would deter a new Black family from moving in, according to the Kokomo Tribune.

Deborah Cantwell

Deborah Cantwell, 63, is charged with misdemeanor intimidation and criminal mischief after penning a racist letter aimed at her Black neighbors. (Image courtesy of the Kokomo Tribune)

Cantwell, 63, was also slapped with a protection order that states “stalking has occurred” and prohibits her from ever contacting the family again.

On Oct. 13, the husband and father of the family called a Howard County sheriff’s deputy to report that his newly-purchased home had been toilet-papered and that he found a racist letter attached to the door. The man said he made the shocking discovery around midnight after stopping by the house on his way home from work.

His wife and children had been at the house just a few hours earlier, he noted.

The letter, which contained the n-word, was “racially offensive and threatening in nature” and mentioned the neighbors’ Black son, according to an affidavit.

“No N—- wanted in this neighborhood-THIS IS A WHITE NEIGHBORHOOD-some people find N—–Stressful,” it read. ” “YOUR N—- KID IS NOT WELCOME.”


The affidavit showed the letter also noted stress-related health issues, alleged bullying and battering incidents, as well as a comment about the property having septic issues. Although police initially thought juveniles might be behind the racist prank, the father told officers he suspected that Cantwell wrote the letter. He said the home’s seller had previously informed him that Cantwell had some reservations about his family moving into the community because of their son.

Investigators later obtained text messages sent by Cantwell that contained similar language about her health concerns.

“I am stressing now that we are going to get Black neighbors,” Cantwell texted. “I am hoping that more people look at the house and an all-white family are the ultimate buyers. I am afraid the stress of black neighbors could put me in the hospital.”

“My blood pressure is elevated just thinking about the possibility,” she added.

On Oct. 18, Cantwell admitted to writing the nasty letter out of anger and TP’ing the family’s house. She tried justifying her actions by noting previous incidents with Black neighbors she said had caused her family harm.

“I mean, the blacks get away with it every time,” Cantwell told investigators, according to the affidavit. “Just rage, I was trying to vent.”

Cantwell didn’t apologize for her actions, which she said she didn’t think were a “big deal,” but said penning the angry letter made her feel a little better.

“I feel like I released some anger writing that letter,” she said.

As for her soon-to-be neighbors, the family has since launched a GoFundMe campaign to help them fight what they’ve call a hate crime. The mother of the family described the “destruction” in her son’s face after learning what had happened.

“That this can’t make him angry and bitter,” the mother wrote. “That he is so much better then what they are portraying him as! His skin color shouldn’t matter. I had to look him in his eyes to talk to him about something I will never understand first, but I saw firsthand the devastation on his face. I watched my child be crushed by someone else hatred and racism.”

Cantwell’s first hearing is scheduled for Nov. 19.


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