Indiana Woman Accused of Writing Racist Note to Family: 'This Is a White Neighborhood'

Deborah Cantwell was charged with intimidation and criminal mischief.
Deborah Cantwell was charged with intimidation and criminal mischief. Howard County Sheriff's Department

The woman is accused of using the N-word in a letter to a family moving into her Indiana neighborhood.

An Indiana woman is accused of writing a racist note that targeted a mixed-race teen with a racial slur, and also warned his family, "THIS IS A WHITE NEIGHBORHOOD," authorities said.

Deborah Cantwell, 63, who is white, was arrested and charged with intimidation and criminal mischief, according to the Howard County Sheriff's Office. She was released last week on $8,000 bail. It was not clear when her next court appearance is scheduled. A protection order filed Friday by authorities prohibits her from contacting the family, according to the Kokomo Tribune.

The note was left on the door of a recently purchased home in Cantwell's Greentown neighborhood and contained several uses of the N-word, authorities said. 

“YOUR N***** KID IS NOT WELCOME,” one paragraph begins, according to a copy of the letter posted on a GoFundMe page established by Amy Pundt, the mother of the 15-year-old referred to in the letter. Pundt said her family was devastated by the letter, which her husband found tucked in the front door of their new home.

Their yard had also been toilet-papered, she wrote. "This destroyed his innocence. This destroyed a childhood. This even effected my other 4 kids! This is not an all-white town, nor is this an all-white neighborhood. This one person does not represent this neighborhood or this town," Pundt wrote on her fundraising page, which seeks $7,000 to purchase a home security system and to hire a lawyer, she said.

Pundt's husband told authorities he suspected Cantwell had written the unsigned letter because the home's seller told him she was opposed to the family moving in because of their mixed-race son, the paper reported. 

Investigators obtained text messages sent by Cantwell stating, “I am stressing now that we are going to get black neighbors,” she texted, according to court records, the paper reported. “I am hoping that more people look at the house and an all-white family are the ultimate buyers. I am afraid the stress of black neighbors could put me in the hospital.

“My blood pressure is elevated just thinking about the possibility.”

In an Oct. 18 interview with law enforcement investigators, Cantwell acknowledged writing the letter in anger and to toilet-papering the new homeowners' yard. 

“I mean, the blacks get away with it every time,” Cantwell told an investigator, according to the affidavit, the paper said.

“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 and it was the — I’m not a violent person so I didn’t think it was any big deal,” she told the investigator. 

The teen's mother, on her fundraising post, said she does not know what to tell her son, who is an honors student, choir member and soccer player, she said.  

“How do I tell my child that this was done? What words do I say to let him know it is not OK and this doesn’t represent this town, where everyone that meets him likes him?” she wrote.