North Andover resident victim of hate crime, police say

LGBTQ+ Death Threat Found Outside Door Monday

NORTH ANDOVER, Mass. — Sometimes, crude can be effective.

A month after the Merrimack Valley town held its Pride celebration, long-time resident Heather Rochette found a folded-over piece of paper outside her door.

In child-like scrawl it read: A Card from Your dear friend.

With two small children of her own, Heather initially thought it must be connected to, or for, one of them.

It definitely wasn’t.

Inside was a note with five swastikas pasted around a derogatory death threat which considered Rochette’s sexuality, and the fact she had been displaying a mini Pride flag outside her unit for weeks -- something she got as a souvenir after the town’s Pride celebration a month earlier.

“We all just got flags there and put it up in solidarity,” Rochette said.

While she didn’t feel terribly threatened by the note, Rochette did feel offended by it.

“I feel like it was just a shock thing,” Rochette said. “Like what can we put in here that’s the most offensive that will get the biggest rise out of someone.”

North Andover Police say the best-case scenario is that this was a juvenile prank -- but even if it was, it’s still a serious offense, said Detective Lieutenant E.J. Foulds.

“It’s a very, very serious crime that we don’t take lightly,” said Detective Lieutenant E.J. Foulds. “The town leaders don’t take it lightly. And I know the district attorney’s office does not take this lightly.”

Heather Rochette doesn’t take it lightly, either. She called police, who are now investigating it as a hate crime.

“Immediately I thought this was completely unacceptable and even if it was from a child, even if it was meant to be a prank, it’s not funny and it’s not okay.”

Others in the complex agreed.

One neighbor, an immigrant from Russia, was particularly taken aback by the swastikas.

“And I’m Jewish and so many innocent Jewish people were killed by this terrible thing,” she said.