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House fire ruled arson
Mother wants 'who did this' found
WEB FIRE reward notice
Authorities have placed a sign seeking information at the site of a Jan. 18 house fire that has been ruled arson. - photo by Emily Saunders

The Jan. 18 fire that destroyed a five-bedroom home in northeastern Forsyth County has been ruled arson, though investigators still are trying to determine who set the blaze and why.

Forsyth County Fire Marshal Steve Anderson said investigators concluded the fire was arson after combing the Lanier Drive site late last week.

No suspects have been named or ruled out, according to Anderson, who declined to say where the fire started.

"We've determined that, but we're not going to release it," he said Friday.

Investigators with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are assisting the fire department.

In addition to the fire, someone spray-painted graffiti on a fence along the property that included a racial slur and the phrase, "your black boy will die."

The Forsyth County Sheriff's Office has assigned an investigator to evaluate the writing, but have not released any of the findings. The FBI has also been notified of the incident.

The news came as little consolation to the homeowner, Pam Graf, a single mother of three.

"I just want who did this to be found," she said. "They're not going to find them, but maybe they will."

Graf said she left Jan. 16 to attend the inauguration of President Barack Obama in Washington D.C. She returned home late Monday after learning of the fire.

An Obama supporter, Graf said she thinks she was targeted because of her political views. Before the fire, she removed a campaign sign from her yard after receiving a threatening note in her mailbox.

Friday, she described the note as a piece of notebook paper that included a racial slur and the phrase "watch your back." She said she found it when she returned from Tybee Island after the New Year's Day holiday.

Graf said she didn't report the note to authorities because she "didn't take it seriously."

She said another Obama sign was taken from her yard before the Nov. 4 election. Graf said hers was the only Obama sign in the neighborhood, a heavily wooded peninsula that juts out into Lake Lanier. The area, she said was "blanketed" in signs for Republican presidential hopeful John McCain.

Graf insists she is not a suspect in the investigation. As of Friday afternoon, she did not have a lawyer, though she said she had received numerous offers of counsel.

It appears Graf has dealt with the Forsyth County Sheriff's Office before.

According to sheriff's reports, she has been involved in at least nine documented incidents since September 2006.

Graf said Friday she was unaware of the reports, which included one in which her home had reportedly been burglarized.

The reports also show Graf had complaints filed against for shoplifting and criminal trespassing. In addition, she and an incarcerated ex-boyfriend have accused each other of harassing communications, the reports show.

Graf said she attempted to get copies of the documents from the sheriff's office Friday.

She obtained a report about the fire and graffiti at her house, but was told she would have to submit an open records request for the others. Standard procedure, such requests can take up to three business days to fill.

Graf said she was "outraged" that she was "denied access" to the records.

"It's the most infuriating part of this whole thing," she said.

Adding to her frustration, Graf said one of her cats is missing and presumed dead.

She had all but one of her five cats boarded at a kennel before she left for the inauguration. She said she is afraid the one she didn't board had hidden somewhere in the house and became a "murder victim."

She said her children, ages 11, 14 and 17, did not make the trip with her and stayed with family instead.

County tax records list the total value of the 3,000-square-foot home, which is insured, at $255,490.

Graf said she put a for sale sign in her yard last summer for about a week to "get a reaction" out of her kids, but had no plans of actually selling the home.

A basketball goal, go-kart and some outdoor furniture were just a few of Graf's belongings that were not charred in the blaze.

Early in the week, the only remaining parts of the structure were the foundation and what appeared to have been the front of the house.

Graf's father, William Morrow, and others, including the Anti-Defamation League and local Democratic Party, have said the incident doesn't represent the community.

While Forsyth County may have strong Republican leanings, it is also home to many Obama supporters. The president received about 20.4 percent of the county's vote in November.