Four people with no obvious connection to each other received copies of a threatening, homophobic letter on Tuesday, police in Portland said.

Three of the identical letters were addressed to Portland residents, two who live on Brighton Avenue and one who lives on Capisic Street. In two cases, the recipients displayed a pride flag outside their homes. In the third case, the recipient is gay, but had no obvious pride-related symbols on their home, police said.

The fourth person who received a letter lives in South Portland, and both police departments are investigating and are working with postal officials to try to determine the source of the letters.

All of the letters contained an image of a rainbow pride flag with the Satanic Temple logo superimposed over it, along with a threatening message that contained a slur against gay people, Portland police spokesman Lt. Robert Martin said. He declined to release an image of the threat or say specifically what the message was, but said the message implied action against the recipients, meaning it met the criteria for a charge of terrorizing, he said.

The image of the flag appears to have been downloaded from the Satanic Temple’s website where the flag is for sale. Police say the Satanic Temple does not appear to have been involved.

This image was included in letters mailed to several residents of Portland and South Portland along with what police described as a threat and homophobic slur. Portland Police Department

The envelopes were all handwritten in ballpoint pen, stamped and addressed to “residents,” with no return address, Martin said. The addresses were accurately written.

Police did not release the specific addresses or the names of the recipients, but Jen Rowland of Capisic Street said she and her husband received one.

Rowland said she has no clue as to who, or why, anyone would want to send her a threatening letter.

She said that she and her husband started displaying a progress flag, which she said is similar to a pride flag, outside their home a few months ago to show support for their LBGTQ friends and relatives. But the location of the flag is not very prominent, she said, and she was shocked to get a letter addressed to “residents” at her address, with the design inside and the word “die” followed by a homophobic slur.

The envelope was handwritten, she said, and had a “very pretty orchid stamp” on it.

Rowland said she’s lived in the area, which she described as a “nice community,” for about six years and never had an issue with anyone, so she has no clue why she was the target of the hate mail. She also said that she doesn’t know of any connection with the other recipients and police haven’t indicated to her if they have any suspects.

Martin said the writing on the letter appeared to have been generated in a rudimentary image program like Microsoft Paint, he said, perhaps by someone using a computer mouse to form the letters.

“It’s very amateurish, it’s very jagged, not square letters,” Martin said. “With the homophobic slur, it definitely enters into the hate crime realm. It really doesn’t change the level of the crime, but different sentencing can be possible.”

In Maine, hate crimes are pursued through civil action by the state Attorney General’s office. State attorneys can seek a judge to approve no-contact orders, and if the person subject to the order disobeys it, they can face further criminal charges.

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy contributed to this report.

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