NORTH ANDOVER (CBS) – Heather Rochette thought it was a prank, a letter found on her doormat that at first looked like a children’s letter with writing that said “a card from your dear friend.” When she unfolded it, there were swastikas and the word “kill” next to a derogatory reference to a person in the LGBTQ+ community.
“I felt shock that someone thought what could I put in there that is the most offensive and would get the biggest rise out of someone,” said Rochette. She has a small pride flag outside her North Andover condo, and thinks that was the likely magnet for such hatred.READ MORE: 7-Month-Old With Rare Genetic Condition Sent Home From Hospital For The First Time Since Being Born
But the effort behind the letter, and its contents, have made her feel more angry than victimized. “Clearly we’ve got a lot of work to do if hateful, dark sentiments are still bubbling somewhere, and it’s more widespread than we’re aware of,” she said.
North Andover police say the incident is being investigated as a felony hate crime. They can’t say if Rochette was the target or the community behind the flag she displays.READ MORE: Market Basket Worker Hoping To Spread Kindness Helps Veteran Pay For Groceries
“We’re not sure if the person knows the damage and the fear they’re causing by using these symbols and these words,” said North Andover police Lieutenant Eric Foulds.
Just last month, police said, swastikas and other hateful messages were spray-painted in some North Andover woods where teens are known to hang out. Police don’t believe the incidents are connected, but that’s even more concerning for Jennifer Bauer with the newly formed North Andover Pride Project.
“If it’s not connected, that’s even scarier. It’s not just one person making their presence known in the town; it’s more than one person, which is something to keep track of,” said Bauer.MORE NEWS: Keller @ Large: Some Republicans Ramp Up Appeals To Get Vaccinated, But Not So Much In Massachusetts
Rochette said she hopes it sparks “something positive.” Police said they have a timeframe for when the letter was likely left at the door and are canvassing the neighborhood for possible surveillance video that could help the investigation.