Teens face possible charges in Johnson Co. cross burning


Police in Johnson County are investigating what they call a possible hate crime after a cross was found burning outside a home in White River Township.

Investigators say the homeowner, who's African-American, was awakened overnight by a knock at the door. He and his wife discovered the three-foot-tall cross burning in their front yard. The couple called police, who tracked the suspects to another home by following footsteps in the snow.

Police say one of the teenage suspects, a 17-year-old boy, had a blood-alcohol level of .08. He also admitted to officers he put the cross in the yard and set it on fire.

"In the wee hours of the morning, getting woke up to a cross burning in your front yard, that's going to...that's something that's not funny. It is serious and something that we have to take seriously," said Johnson County Sheriff Doug Cox.

The teens now face potential charges in juvenile court. Police and prosecutors will decide whether the act will be considered a hate crime.