Nicole Rhodes was in the process of reopening a hair salon and beauty school in a Youngstown, Ohio, building that she has owned for the last three-and-a-half years.
A few weeks ago, she says, someone, presumably a neighbor, left a racist letter on the building with a deadly warning: " 'Black bitch, we don't want you here,' " she says it read, according to WKBN. " 'Don't get burnt up in there.' "
On Monday she saw her 2006 Ford truck go up in flames. Youngstown Fire Department Chief Investigator Alvin Ware has already noted that someone torched Rhodes' pickup and has told WKBN that the department is investigating the fire as arson.
"There's something going on," he said.
Rhodes, 40, told the New York Daily News that she couldn't believe this happened.
"This can't be real. This just can't be real," she said. "It just cannot be this serious. Black skin just can't be this serious. Black skin just can't make you go destroying property.
"I thought it was nothing. My neighbors are prejudiced," she said. "I'm used to people hating me—but now it's because of my skin. It's the same kind of hatred. It's something to be ignored."
Police have made no arrest and have no leads in the case.
Rhodes is now looking to sell the building and has installed some 16 cameras around the property. "It has to be that serious," she told the Daily News.