TAGHKANIC, N.Y. (NEWS10) – Police are now investigating a possible connection between a house fire and an incident involving racially charged vandalism in Taghkanic.
Just weeks after disturbing, racially charged graffiti was removed from this Taghkanic home, it now sits in rubble. The owner says this is not a coincidence.
“This is not an accident. This is a hate crime,” Homeowner Fred Iorfidas said.
It all started back in 2015, when Irofidas’ home burned down for the first time.
“I renovated the whole house. A year later, boom the house got burnt. Six months later, my other house got burnt. Now I start doing the house over here and what happens over here, graffiti.”
The graffiti Irofida is talking about was sprayed on his third home, the one he rebuilt this past summer after a mysterious fire destroyed his second home. The graffiti was disturbing and Irofidas and his girlfriend say the words were personal.
“It was all racial slurs on the house saying blacks must die and everything so I’m just not understanding, but I’m not gonna let nobody run me away,” Maureen, Irofidas’ girlfriend, said.
The couple is refusing to be intimidated. They removed the hateful graffiti but just this Monday, they received chilling news, the house burned to the ground for the third time.
“It just felt creepy. To know that okay you want me to die? What’s the reason? Like we pump the same blood. Everybody has the same blood. Our skin may be a different color but that’s it. But you want to hate me because of the color of my skin?”
Police were never able to determine the cause of the first fire. They refused an on-camera interview but said, the cause of Monday’s fire is still under investigation but they “can’t rule out the possibility that it is connected to the racist graffiti.”
“I’m kinda scared. I’m kinda staying awake at night and everybody is wondering who’s gonna be next?” Joseph Macri, neighbor, and friend of the couple, said.
The owner is now offering a $10,000 reward for any information relating to the incident.
Anyone with information should contact police.
Irofidas and Maureen say that even this most recent incident will not deter them from moving into the Taghkanic neighborhood. He says they are determined to rebuild their dream home.