Hate crime hoaxes seem to be on the rise and this one is especially bad.
Nikki Joly from Jackson, Mich. allegedly set his own house on fire in an attempt to stage a hate crime. The fire completely demolished his home and also killed five of his own pets.
According to the Detroit News, the FBI investigated the 2017 fire as a hate crime and Joly said an unknown arsonist targeted him because of his efforts to organize a pride festival in the Michigan town. Joly was even named Citizen of the Year by the local paper.
Authorities later determined the fire was intentionally set, but the person they arrested came as a shock to both supporters and opponents of the gay rights movement. It was the citizen of the year — Nikki Joly.
“It’s embarrassing,” said Travis Trombley, a gay resident who fought for the ordinance. “How do you do it to the community you have put so much effort into helping?”
Why Joly, 54, would allegedly burn down his home remains a mystery. He didn’t own the house, which was insured by its owner, police said.
His attorney said the lack of a motive cast doubt on the case.
Meanwhile, a police investigative report suggests a possible reason for the fire.
Two people who worked with Joly at St. Johns United Church of Christ, where the Jackson Pride Center was located, said he had been frustrated the controversy over gay rights had died down with the passage of the nondiscrimination law, according to the report.
Neighbors tried to rescue the pets from the blaze, but say the fire was too hot to go inside. Firefighters later found the bodies of the dogs near the back door.
The Detroit News says that a hearing to file motions is scheduled for March 8th in Jackson County Circuit Court.