Hate Crime Perpetrator Sentenced

Man Painted Racial Slurs and Imagery on Rental Home

Composite image showing scenes from the interior of an Ohio home that was damaged by Samuel Whitt following his eviction; he was sentenced in 2019 on hate crimes charges.

In addition to painting racial slurs and imagery on his former Ohio rental home, Samuel Whitt also severely damaged the property following his eviction in November 2016.

An Ohio tenant who painted racial slurs and imagery on his former rental home is now serving a federal prison sentence for hate crimes.

Samuel Whitt, 43, and his girlfriend rented a home from an interracial family in Cincinnati. They were evicted in November 2016 for not paying their rent.

After his eviction, Whitt returned to the apartment and broke in, according to Special Agent Pamela Kirschner, who investigated this case out of the FBI’s Cincinnati Field Office.

In a destructive spree, Whitt spray-painted swastikas and racial slurs on walls throughout the home. He knocked out windows, lit the gas stove and candles, and damaged the smoke detectors. He destroyed carpet, splashed paint throughout the home, tore the kitchen cabinets from the walls, and poured concrete into the plumbing. Before he left, he also removed the plumbing traps and turned on the water. This was not discovered for several days because the owners were out of town visiting family for the Thanksgiving weekend.

No one was injured, but the estimated damage totaled more than $60,000. That cost, however, doesn’t factor in the emotional devastation felt by the family who owned the home.

After the couple’s son had died prior to this crime, the family often spent time together at this house, which their daughter had lived in. When the daughter moved away, the parents began renting out the home.

“More than the physical destruction was the emotional destruction for this family,” Kirschner said. “It was really a painful experience for them.”

“More than the physical destruction was the emotional destruction for this family. It was really a painful experience for them.”

Pamela Kirschner, special agent, FBI Cincinnati

Although the Cincinnati Police Department quickly arrested Whitt on local charges, the FBI offered to collaborate on the investigation. The FBI brought to the case additional investigative resources and the option of seeking a federal hate crime charge against the perpetrator.

Investigators found Whitt’s fingerprints on a spray paint can at the home. Phone records and other evidence also placed him at the scene.

Whitt pleaded guilty in January to violating the Fair Housing Act through force. In September, he was sentenced to 54 months in prison and ordered to pay restitution. Whitt’s sentencing memorandum described his actions as “not just the cost of being a landlord. It was a personal attack on their family and their identity.”

“The victims were very grateful, especially for the hate crimes charge, because that matches how they felt,” Kirschner said. “This wasn't a simple break-in. The family was violated, and the sentence reflects their story and what happened to them.”