Witnesses Call Beating, Arson A Hate Crime

Police are looking for three men who bound and beat a woman, before setting her home on fire. It's an attack that many in Lincoln are calling a hate crime; they say it was because of the victim's sexual orientation.

Lincoln Police responded to the 1000 block of South 22nd Street just after 4:00 Sunday morning. According to police reports, three men went into the home, assaulted the woman and then started the house on fire.

Before leaving, the men spray painted derogatory messages about her sexuality inside the home. The woman managed to escape and knocked on a neighbor's door for help.

A neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, said, "My neighbor was standing there and she had no clothes on her hand had been tied with zip ties and the first thing I saw was the blood running down her face."

The neighbor said the woman had cuts all over her torso, arms, and face and was hysterical.

A friend described the cuts, "There were things carved on her body that can only be described as hate, that somebody can only be taught and we need to stop teaching it."

That's when the neighbor called 911 and reported the incident.

The neighbor added, "I absolutely think it was a hate crime and it appalls me that someone judges her on one small portion of her character."

Neighbors described the victim as a nice person who would occasionally mow other neighbors yards when she was out mowing hers or help people carry in groceries. They say she was friendly, but kept to herself and didn't bother anyone.

Friends organized a "Vigil Against Violence" Sunday on the west side of the Capitol. Word of the vigil spread quickly via social media and hundreds attended, holding candles to show support for the victim.

First Plymouth Congregational Church in Lincoln is planning a vigil for 7:00 p.m.Wednesday night, and another is planned 8:00 p.m. Thursday at Memorial Park in Omaha.