Deborah Cantwell was charged with intimidation and criminal mischief after she covered her neighbors’ house in toilet paper and left a horrific racist letter, police said
A 63-year-old Indiana woman has been arrested after she left a racist letter on the door of her neighbors’ newly purchased home, police have revealed.
Deborah Cantwell was charged with intimidation and criminal mischief after she allegedly covered her neighbors’ house in toilet paper and left the shocking letter.
A protection order was also issued stating that ‘stalking has occurred’ and that Cantwell is not allowed to contact the family.
Cantwell spotted Amy Howell Pundt and her family on October 12, when they happily took photos with the ‘Sold’ sign in front of their new home in Greentown.
Pundt, who has a black 15-year-old son, said it was the family’s ‘dream home’, one that had taken them a year to find and save up for.
That day her children picked out the colors for their rooms and everyone began talking about the memories they ‘hoped to make in the future of our new dream home’.
But that happiness and excitement didn’t last for long.
‘We all walked in the front door that day, ready to start this new adventure,’ Pundt wrote on her Facebook page.
‘However, I didn’t know my son was being watched and targeted as I sent him out to help bring things in. I didn’t know what was getting ready to come.’
Pundt and her children left the house around 7pm and returned to their rental.
Her husband was working late that night and stopped by the family’s new home to turn the furnace back on because Pundt forgot. That’s when he saw the toilet paper.
And then, he saw the letter.
‘No N*****s wanted in this neighborhood – THIS IS A WHITE NEIGHBORHOOD – some people,’ the beginning of the horrific letter – which was all typed – read.
Cantwell, who has admitted to writing the letter, went on to say that she had ’33 years of negative experience’ and ‘finds N*****s stressful’.
‘I cannot be stress free if I have to look at the n*****r kid day in and day out,’ it continues.
Amy Howell Pundt and her son who is Black – ‘I saw firsthand the devastation on his face. I watched my child be crushed by someone else’s hatred and racism,’ said Amy Pundt, ‘I had to look him in his eyes to talk to him about something I will never understand’
Cantwell then goes on to say that she moved to a ‘white town’ and ‘all white neighborhood’ for ‘health reasons’.
‘This is our forever home, we cannot afford to move – besides this is my dream home and we have been here for a very long time,’ the letter continues.
‘Perhaps you should have considered the neighborhood before bringing a N****r kid into this neighborhood.’
‘YOUR N****R KID IS NOT WELCOME…just the sight of the child reminds me of all the things I live in this town to forget.’
‘Your kid may be a nice kid but the sight sets off my anger, rage and disgust of how N*****s never pay for their crimes.’
Amy Pundt’s husband immediately called the police to report the toilet paper and letter, which has left his family shaken.
‘No N*****s wanted in this neighborhood – THIS IS A WHITE NEIGHBORHOOD – some people,’ the beginning of the horrific letter : Deborah Cantwell wrote this letter and posted on the front door of her new neighbors who were moving in with their biracial teen son
‘The toilet paper, that was a warning,’ Pundt wrote in a Facebook post about the incident. ‘The note, that was the threat.’
‘A letter about my son who had been watched and plotted against. My biracial son. My CHILD was facing bigotry and hatred at a level I can’t even fathom. JUST FOR THE COLOR OF HIS SKIN.’
Pundt said the letter has completely destroyed her son’s innocence and childhood and has even affected her four other children.
‘How do I tell my child that this was done? What words do I say to let him know it is not okay and this doesn’t represent this town, where everyone that meets him likes him? That this can’t make him angry and bitter,’ she writes.
‘That he is so much better then what they are portraying him as. His skin color shouldn’t matter. I had to look him in his eyes to talk to him about something I will never understand.’
‘But I saw firsthand the devastation on his face. I watched my child be crushed by someone else’s hatred and racism.’
Cantwell was arrested after the father told police he suspected she wrote the letter.
The home’s seller had told the father that Cantwell did not want the family moving into their neighborhood because they had a black son.
Investigators then obtained text messages that Cantwell sent to another person in which she said she was ‘stressing’ because ‘we are going to get black neighbors’.
‘I am hoping that more people look at the house and an all-white family are the ultimate buyers,’ the text, obtained by Kokomo Tribune, reads.
‘I am afraid the stress of black neighbors could put me in the hospital,’ she continues. ‘My blood pressure is elevated just thinking about the possibility.’
On October 18, Cantwell admitted to police that she had written the letter and covered the family’s yard in toilet paper.
But she refused to apologize and continued to defend her actions.
‘The blacks get away with it every time,’ she told investigators. ‘I was trying to vent.’
‘I was just trying to let them know that they weren’t really…welcome as far as us. I just needed to let off some steam.’
‘I’m not a violent person so I didn’t think it was any big deal.’
Cantwell said she was sorry that her letter ’caused so much ruckus’, before adding that she ‘released some anger writing that letter’.
When the investigator asked how Cantwell would feel if she received such a letter, she simply responded: ‘I’d want to get out of the neighborhood’.
Cantwell, who has since posted bond, now says she intends to get counseling.
Meanwhile, Pundt has been sharing the family’s story because her son wants people to see that ‘racism still exists’.
‘It’s real. It hurts. It destroys. It’s devastating, and it affects everyone. He WILL rise above this. He’s going to make beauty from ashes. He will fight this. And he will win.’
‘He’s on the honor roll, he swims, he plays soccer, and runs track. He even made show choir. Never gets in trouble. Not to mention he’s kind, sweet, caring, and he bleeds the same as everyone else. There’s nothing “different” about him.’
Pundt said that her son still wants to live in the new house as long his family would be safe with him ‘staying there too’.
‘He has every right to be mad, yet there he sits more worried about his family and if they’ll be safe,’ she continued.
‘That is him. Thoughtful. Wonderful. Amazing. A CHILD! This shouldn’t have ever happened. I want to move. Yet he wants to stay. He doesn’t want the bully to win.’
‘He has faced this head-on with more maturity then I could ever imagine for him. He has responded with a maturity well beyond his age.’
“I like everyone of all colors. Hi, my name is Lexi and I am excited that you have joined our community,” reads one welcoming card that showcases a hand-drawn rainbow.
Pundt has since set up a GoFundMe page for the family, hoping to raise money for a fence, a security system, and any upcoming legal fees.
‘I will forgive you one day, but for now you have instilled in all my heart a fear I have never had before,’ she wrote.
‘You have instilled fear in my family, you have instilled fear ion my children. This fear I have is crippling. Through all of this I can tell you – you will not win!’
‘You may have knocked us down for the time being, but you have not knocked us out.’
. Deputies are now investigating the letter as a hate crime and intimidation case.
After hearing their story some other Greentown residents rallied around Pundts, welcoming them into the community.
“We were all really surprised,” she said one 17-year resident of Greentown, Susan Tobin. “It’s not like that in our community. I’m not surprised that there is racism, but to have it in your backyard in a small community is unexpected.”
On Thursday evening, Tobin dropped off a basket to the family targeted by the letter. Inside were over 60 cards and letters written by kids and residents from Greentown welcoming them to their new home.
One letter had a drawing of a house and a smiley face with the message “No matter what color, no matter what race, you still belong in this place.”
Another card read “Roses are red, violets are blue, we are so sorry for what happened to you. We know you might be sad, or scared too, but don’t worry, we are there for you.”
Many of the cards said “Welcome to Greentown.” One had a drawing of some of the downtown businesses such as King Chef and Subway, along with a sign that says, “Anyone is welcome in Greentown.”
The basket was also packed with gift cards and other items from local businesses such as Blondie’s Cookies. One bank donated stadium cushions.
Tobin said the whole idea was to combat the hateful letter with a “basket of love and acceptance.”
“Racism does exist. We get it. But we’re not all that. We’re a whole lot more than that,” she said. “That’s not the welcome they deserved in our community. They deserve better than that.”
Tobin said she doesn’t personally know the family that was targeted or who might have left the letter. But after dropping of the basket, she said, the family was very grateful for the gifts and the letters of support.
“It brought tears to the mom’s eyes and will be greatly appreciated by the entire family,” Tobin said in an email Thursday evening. “They wanted everyone to know they are thankful to be blessed by the community in this way. They have lived in Greentown their whole lives and this affirms what they already know to be true: Greentown is a loving and supporting community.”