A Poughkeepsie home known locally as the Halloween House, the House of Netherworld and the Witch House, a dwelling popular with members of the Church of Satan, was set on fire by a masked arsonist early Thursday morning in what the home's owner has called a "hate crime," according to reports.
The person carried two gasoline cans as they poured the liquid onto the home's front entrance and then set it on fire in a moment captured on video, authorities said, according to The New York Times.
Police are still trying to determine what the motive may have been.
“We have no idea what the motive is,” said Poughkeepsie Police Detective Lt. Matt Clark. “We’re still investigating and trying to identify the person in the video.”
The homeowner, Matthew Camp, a model, actor and adult performer, said he believed his home was set on fire because he is gay, the Hudson Valley Post reported. "An arsonist poured gasoline on the front porch of my home and set it on fire in an apparent hate crime. I was asleep inside. I am alive to face this person one day but everything I have ever owned is gone," Camp wrote on Instagram about the blaze.
There were two people in the home at the time of the fire who managed to get out in time.
The home for years was owned by Joseph Mendillo, a priest in the Church of Satan known as Joe Netherworld, the Times reported. Some reportedly believe the arsonist may have thought that the Church of Satan was a place for devil worship, which it is not. The church practices atheism and focuses on individualism, liberty and self-fulfillment, Times reported.
When Mendillo died a year ago, his friend Camp said he bought it to help maintain it in the same respect.
The home, which was built 1900, suffered extensive damage. A church of Satan member who lives nearby told the paper that the arson feels personal. The area where the house is had been coined the “Witchcraft District.” It was also a social center for many in the gay community and a favorite spot for Halloween trick-or-treaters.
“The house was the center of our neighborhood,” she said.
A GoFundMe created to help Camp in one day raised over $75,000.