Stoneham

Woman Charged Over Swastikas Left on Stoneham Lawn Halloween Night

Stoneham police had confirmed that they were investigating the incident, in which five pieces of purple paper cut into swastikas were found on the lawn along with a melted candle, as a hate crime

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A woman has been charged with leaving five swastikas in the yard of a Stoneham, Massachusetts, couple last year, court documents show.

Kathleen Collins, of Woburn, faces a civil rights violation and a felony charge of intimidating a witness over the incident, discovered the day after Halloween, according to documents filed in Woburn District Court. They reveal that police suspect that Collins was targeting the woman who lived at the home, a lawyer who had represented her ex-boyfriend in a child custody dispute.

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Stoneham police had previously confirmed that they were investigating the incident, in which five pieces of purple paper cut into swastikas were found on the lawn along with a melted candle, as a hate crime.

The family that was targeted, which is Jewish, has previously told NBC10 Boston they were disturbed by what happened, and the attorney allegedly targeted in the incident said Wednesday that she hopes Collins faces culpability for the actions.

Collins told NBC10 Boston she denied the charges, which she's due to face in court next month.

The swastikas had hateful and antisemitic messages written on them, including "Go to hell." According to the court documents, the police investigation found that Collins had previously said the attorney had "got it coming to her" and urged her ex not to cooperate in the investigation — leading to a witness intimidation charge.

The incident shook the community — state Rep. Michael Day called it "a disgraceful, horrific incident for our community" — and came amid a rise of antisemitism and other acts of hate statewide and around the country.

A Jewish family found antisemitic graffiti covering their Stoneham lawn, amid a rise of such incidents around the country.

The Anti-Defamation League's New England chapter released a statement noting their appreciation that the case was investigated.

"Incidents of antisemitism do not always make it to the justice system, either because the incident does not meet the threshold of a crime, or it is simply too difficult for victims to have to relive a traumatizing situation," the statement said. "We hope justice in this case ultimately reflects how hateful this incident was and will restore a sense of safety for the victims and for the Stoneham community."

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