A racist message written on a Murfreesboro family's front door is catching the attention of authorities.
The letters KKK and what appears to be a swastika were discovered on the door of a home Wednesday morning, and a pornographic photo was also found with the same symbols.
Michael and Rachel Varnell, of Stroop Road, said they'll open their door to anyone.
"Everybody is welcomed," Michael Varnell said.
But there was an unwanted guest that came creeping in the night and left a message of hate.
"The first thing that went through my mind was shock and disbelief. I couldn't really understand why someone would target us," Michael Varnell said.
He was leaving for work at about 6:30 a.m. when he found the pornographic photo with KKK and what appears to be a swastika drawn on it. The same thing was written on the front door.
"Absolute disgust. I couldn't believe something like this still happens," Rachel Varnell said.
The Varnells believe they may have been targeted since their niece and nephew, who are bi-racial, are often seen playing in the front yard with their 5-year-old son, who has special needs.
"I'm not sure if it's about my autistic son or about my niece and nephew who are mixed race," Rachel Varnell said.
"I feel anybody who would write anything like that on people's property is showing their ignorance and stupidity," Michael Varnell said. "There is no place for that in today's culture."
Rachel Varnell said she promised her sister, Sarah Redden, if she moved from Atlanta to Rutherford County, she wouldn't have to worry about racism.
"I shouldn't have to have a KKK decide whether I should have to have a KKK discussion with my 8-year-old," Redden said. "That should be something when she starts learning about that in history that we discuss."
The family is not ruling out teenagers playing a cruel joke.
"There are some kids who are probably young, dumb and full of it. I image that's who did it," Michael Varnell said.
The family said they've contacted family in East Tennessee, who are heading to Rutherford County, and each will take shifts to keep a watch on the house 24-7.
Michael Varnell has a message of his own that he placed on his front lawn, which reads, "The Lord is my judge and yours. Blessed are the children of all colors and abilities. You will burn. Next time you want to show your IGNORANCE, JUST KNOCK." He included a cross and wrote, "This is my symbol."
The family is hoping neighbors who may have seen something or know something will come forward and report it.
Rutherford County Sheriff's Office detectives are investigating, trying to determine whether the motive was a hate crime or an act of vandalism.
They have increased patrols in the area.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
Family concerned after racist message drawn on doorMore>>
Two adventurous kayakers in Argentina experienced the thrill of a lifetime following an encounter with a pod of massive whales. The video was taken somewhere off the coast of Puerto Madryn, Argentina.More >
Two adventurous kayakers in Argentina experienced the thrill of a lifetime following an encounter with a pod of massive whales.More >
Thursday, July 24 2014 6:03 PM EDT2014-07-24 22:03:27 GMT
The state of Oregon is taking steps to ban smoking on all 362 miles of beaches along the Pacific coast. The move by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department follows a ban on smoking at most other state-parkMore >
The move by the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department follows a ban on smoking at most other state-park property, which was enacted earlier this year.More >
Wednesday, July 23 2014 5:57 PM EDT2014-07-23 21:57:36 GMT
Portland police said a 19-year-old man suffered a gunshot wound to the chest, ran a short distance and then collapsed in the yard of a home in the Woodstock neighborhood Tuesday night. Paul Krekeler diedMore >
Portland police say 19-year-old Paul Krekeler was shot in the chest, ran north on 57th Avenue and then collapsed in the yard of a Woodstock neighborhood home.More >
Thursday, July 24 2014 10:53 PM EDT2014-07-25 02:53:03 GMT
A man who shot and killed another man and tried to get away in a stolen car in St. Helens was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison. A judge sentenced Michael Lytsell in court Thursday. He pleaded guiltyMore >
A man who shot and killed another man and tried to get away in a stolen car in St. Helens was sentenced to nearly 20 years in prison.More >