Paint hate

By James Quiggle
January 1, 2002
Jaelynn Sealey’s burned-out car seemed like a vicious hate crime against a peaceful black woman — but actually was an insurance swindle by Sealey herself.

The former Hunterville, NC woman, who is black, said hate-mongers had torched her Chevy Cavalier in her driveway and crudely scrawled a racial slur, “Go home N——,“ on her garage door using black paint.

A large outpouring of community support followed after Sealey called 911 to report the apparent hate crime. More than 400 local residents held a rally, including the town police chief and a board member of the NAACP. Neighbors brought her food, helped wash the nasty words off the garage door, and raised $2,225 for her.

But investigators soon realized the arson was a ruse: She gave evasive answers when questioned. The black paint on the garage door also chemically matched the paint on the pole of a basketball hoop in her driveway. The handwritten slur closely resembled her own handwriting. The words also were painted with a brush; real crooks would’ve used spray paint because it works faster. And strangely, the gas can in her garage was nearly empty; it was full when her husband had last used it. She’d even called her insurance company the day of the torching to make sure the Cavalier was covered.

Sealey finally broke down. She admitted torching the car with gasoline to collect insurance money, and painted the racial insult to make the arson look like a vicious hate crime. She needed the insurance money to help pay for an expensive Chevy van she’d just bought. Sealey received six months in federal prison in September 2002. All the neighbors want is an apology and their money back.


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