Army veteran looks to move past racist graffiti and home burned to the ground

CRAWFORD COUNTY, MO - The Crawford County Sheriff’s Office and the State’s Fire Marshal are investigating a suspicious weekend fire that destroyed the home where Gary Masten and his 17-year-old son were living.  The fire on the 300 block of Highway 19 came 2 weeks after investigators responded to the same house for a report of racist graffiti spray painted on the house.

The graffiti included a racist term describing African-Americans.  We also noticed what appeared to be a swastika.  Masten and his son are white and are not Jewish.  They were not home when the fire started.

“I don’t even think whoever did it was smart enough to have a target,” said Masten.

He is now looking for a place to rent after losing everything.  Masten is a U.S. Army veteran and said the most precious items lost in the fire were his father’s military records from serving in the U.S. Navy during the Vietnam War.

“That’s just stuff,” said Masten.  “We’re walking around.  That’s what, that’s what matters.  Everything else can be dealt with.”

He has a hope for those responsible for the graffiti.  He hopes they receive a good education.

“Whoever that was needs to go to a library for a bunch of reasons,” said Masten.  Neighbors are lending a helping hand.  Masten is now looking for another place to live.  He says the help he’s received from the community is the true reflection of what his community is all about.

Anyone with information is asked the call the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office at 573-775-2125.