#Murder

Trans Woman Found Dead in Florida in Potential Hate Crime

Trigger Warning: Murder, Hate Crime

On the morning of September 8th, the body of Londonn Moore was discovered near a bus stop in Florida on Sawyer Circle in an undeveloped part of Port Charlotte.

After discovering her body, police determined that her death was suspicious and began a search for her car. Her vehicle, a Chrysler 200, was discovered in another part of Port Charlotte. It is unclear where she was murdered.

The police have not classified the case as a hate crime.

Nathan Bruemmeer, the Executive director of ALSO YOUTH in Sarasota said:

“I think it is too early to say if it’s a hate crime, but I think what is important to recognize is that the state of Florida is leading the nation in violence against transgender population, specifically in trans woman and trans women of color.” -ABC affiliate

North Port Police Department officer, Joshua Taylor, said:

“Whether it’s a hate crime or not, you’re going to pay that price.” -NBC, Florida

The story is significant because although the police have not declared it a hate crime, many people feel that this is part of a larger pattern. Hal Trejo of All Rainbow and Allied Youth Inc. said:

“This would mark the 21st person in the nation since the start of the year that a transgender person has been murdered. It’s the fifth person in Florida alone this year, so we see it’s a huge crisis and needs to be addressed and talked about.”

The news media and police have also continued to misgender and “deadname” the victim in coverage in spite of calls from friends and local leaders. Her name was Londonn Moore.

Police are still seeking information.

h/t: ABC Affiliate Florida, NBC Florida

Accused Of Murder, California Man Denies Incident Was A Hate Crime

A 21-year-old man from Newport Beach accused of killing a former classmate could face life in prison without parole after prosecutors added a hate crime enhancement to murder charges.

Samuel Woodward is accused of murder in the stabbing death of his former high school classmate Blaze Bernstein.

Bernstein was reported missing by his parents in January while he was visiting home during the winter break at the University of Pennsylvania. His body was eventually found in a shallow grave in Borrego Park with over 20 stab wounds.

DNA evidence found in Woodward’s car and Borrego Park led to his arrest.

At the time the hate crime component was added to existing murder charges, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas told CBS News that a search of Woodward’s social media and cellphone data revealed “graphic” and “chilling” photos and text messages.

Rackauckas said the material, which was "homophobic, anti-Semitic, misogynistic and anti-government" showed Woodward's "dark side."

CBS News also reports that Woodward has been linked to white supremacist group.

According to the Los Angeles Times, Woodward denied the hate crime enhancement during a court appearance on Wednesday even though he admits it was a kiss that sparked the altercation.

According to an affidavit, Woodward told investigators that Bernstein kissed him while they were sitting in a parked car Jan. 2. Woodward told authorities the kiss was unwanted and that he pushed Bernstein away.

After Wednesday’s court appearance, Woodward’s attorney, Edward Munoz, said his client has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, a developmental disorder that can hinder a person’s ability to socialize or communicate.

Munoz said that “there’s going to be some evidence that comes out to say he’s very confused” about both his sexual identity and “his own identity.”

 

A Gay Frenchman Was Knocked Unconscious, Burned, And Chopped Into Pieces

A Frenchman was found dead in India, and a young gay man was charged for the murder.

68-year-old Pierre Bernard Robert Rene’s remains were found charred and split up between several sandbags.

The police had been looking for Pierre after his suitcase, with his passport, his ATM cards, and a diary inside, was found abandoned.

It was the diary that pointed police in the direction of Thirumurugan.

Pierre was in India as a vacation and allegedly met up with 29-year-old student C. Thirumurugan, according to The Hindu. Pierre came to Tiruchi, India on August 3 and stayed at a lodge. It was there that he got picked up by Thirumurugan.

Allegedly, the two men traveled to another town and drank alcohol before engaging in sex. Afterwards, the two got into an arguments and the 29-year-old knocked his companion unconscious.

"The student got frustrated and hit him on the head with a wooden stick and he (the tourist) collapsed," said senior police officer Senthil Kumar to AFP.

Police say that Thirumurugan then panicked while thinking he killed the tourist and decided to hide the body. He did so by covering it with petrol and burning it. The charred remains were then split up and stuffed into three different sand bags, which were then dumped by the road.

Unfortunately for Thirumurugan, the police quickly caught onto him and he was arrested. He then confessed to his crimes while in custody.

h/t: The Hindu, Channel New Asia/AFP

ACLU And Company Want An Appeal For Gay Man Convicted To Death By A Homophobic Jury

Six civil rights organizations have gotten in the ring to fight for a death row inmate who was found guilty by a homophobic jury.

The American Civil Liberties Union, American Civil Liberties Union of South Dakota, Lambda Legal, GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders, National Center for Lesbian Rights, and National LGBT Bar Association have filed an amici brief advising the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals to hear the appeal of Charles Rhines.

In June, we shared with you the story of Charles Rhines. He was arrested after being caught in a deadly burglary of a doughnut shop in Rapid City, South Dakota in 1992.

While Rhines was convicted in 1993 for the murder and sentenced to death, evidence later arose that the jury that convicted him was biased. This evidence is three official statements from jurors who served during Rhines’s case.

As the Miami Herald wrote:

“One juror was quoted as saying that putting a gay man in prison would be ‘sending him where he wants to go.’ Another quoted a fellow juror as saying Rhines ‘shouldn’t be able to spend his life with men in prison.’ A third reported that, ‘There was a lot of disgust’ in the jury room. ‘This is a farming community.’”

While Rhines’s crime is very serious, his conviction to death because of a homophobic jury, who opted for him to not go to prison, doesn’t sit well with some. That includes the six organizations who have joined together to fight for him.

“New evidence confirms that some of the jurors who voted to impose the death penalty on Mr. Rhines did so because they thought the alternative – a life sentence in a men’s prison – was something he would enjoy as a gay man,” they shared in the brief. “Three jurors have made statements indicating that anti-gay prejudices played a significant role in the jury’s decision-making.”

 “As Chief Justice Roberts has explained, the core premise of our criminal justice system is that ‘[o]ur law punishes people for what they do, not who they are.’ (Buck v. Davis) Bias based on a characteristic that cannot be changed, such as race or sexual orientation, goes against this foundational principle. Allowing bias to play any role in sentencing is especially alarming when the bias may have made the difference between life and death.”

 Now, Rhines and his defense team have filed an Application for certificate of Appealabilty with the before mentioned U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. The application can be viewed here and its exhibits can be seen here.

Will the support of these six major LGBTQ rights organizations give Rhines the yes that he needs or will his execution be upheld? We’ll see in due time.

Murderer Of Florida Gay Man Arrested After Using The Victims Credit Card

Florida police are interrogating the murderer of a Jacksonville gay man after they found him using the victim’s credit card.

On July 19, 30-year-old hair stylist Jessie Sumlar IV was found dead in his Water’s Edge apartment in Northside Jacksonville. A maintenance worker discovered the body and a handgun while doing a welfare check of the apartment, and police say the murder probably happened two or three days prior to that, according to News4Jax.

On top of the murder, Sumlar’s wallet and car were also stolen. This led police towards looking for Sumlar’s dark blue/green 2006 Chevrolet Impala with a Florida license plate saying EWXM16. While police did eventually find it, they found it burned near King Street and McCoys Creek Boulevard.

Thankfully, Jacksonville police later obtained surveillance footage of Sumlar’s credit card being used. They then released photos and video, seen below, and tips from the public led to the arrest of Omar Lewis.

Lewis was arrested this past Wednesday and charged with auto theft, credit card theft, and fraudulent use of a stolen credit card.

According to FirstCoastNews, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement connected Lewis’s DNA to the murder scene and he’s now been charged with murder as well.

Again, police are currently interviewing Lewis to find out more details about the murder.

h/t: News4Jax, FirstCoastNews

Hate Crime Charges Added To Murder Of California Teen Blaze Bernstein

California Police say that the murder of 19-year-old Blaze Bernstein is now a confirmed hate crime.

21-year-old Samuel Woodward is currently under investigation after being tied to the disappearance and death of former classmate Bernstein.

Bernstein was home in California while on Winter break from the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. The two allegedly arranged to meet on the night of Bernstein’s disappearance. His body was then later found in a park and police tied Woodword to the incident.

Now, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas says that homophobia and hate led to the murder, according to WSB-TV2.

A hate crime sentencing enhancement has been added to Woodward’s charge, but Rackauckas and Orange County police refuse to share the details of the evidence that led to this change.

According to ABC News, all Rackauckas was willing to share was that they looked through his cell phone, laptop, and social media. What they discovered was racist, anti-Semitic, misogynistic, and homophobic.

"We have no room for this kind of hate in our society," Rackauckas told reporters in a statement.

"There's a lot there that just spews hatred towards a lot of different groups of people, basically every protected group," he added. "So it's hatred of many different groups of people. But the evidence of the motivation for this particular killing is we can show evidence that he killed him at least substantially because he was gay."

Rackauckas also would not address the earlier reported allegations that Woodword was connected to a neo-Nazi group. He instead asked anyone with any information showing such a link to report it to the authorities.

"There could be other charges filed as evidence develops," he said.

Samuel Woodward has pleaded not guilty to the murder and is currently being held on $5 million bail.

With these added hate crime charges, Woodward could be facing up to life in prison. His preliminary hearing is on August 22.

h/t: WSB-TV2, ABC News

Heather Barron Arrested, Charged With Torturing and Murdering Anthony Avalos

The mother of Anthony Avalos was arrested today and charged with murdering the 10-year-old boy who came out as gay weeks before his violent death.

Heather Barron, 28, appeared in court today, but her arraignment has been postponed to Monday. She is being charged with murder, child abuse resulting in death and torture, says a spokesman with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

Earlier this week, Barron’s boyfriend Kareem Leiva, 32, was arrested and charged with murder, torture and assault on a child causing death, according the D.A.’s office. Leiva is being medically treated for a laceration to the neck, and will be arraigned when he is medically cleared.

If convicted on all charges, Barron faces 22 years to life in prison; Leiva faces 32 years to life.

Weeks after telling people around him he “liked boys,” the 10-year-old boy was found unresponsive in his home covered in cigarette burns with severe head trauma. He died June 21.

According to Department of Children and Family Services Director Bobby Cagle, Anthony showed signs of being severely beaten and malnourished.

On Tuesday, The L.A. County Board of Supervisors called for a comprehensive review of Anthony’s case history.

Clearly, law enforcement and child welfare services failed Anthony Avalos.

h/t: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-anthony-avalos-arrest-20180629-story.html

For more on this case: http://instinctmagazine.com/post/10-year-old-boy-anthony-avalos-came-out-weeks-brutal-torture-and-death

http://instinctmagazine.com/post/kareem-leiva-arrested-charged-murder-anthony-avalos

Kareem Leiva Arrested, Charged With Murder of Anthony Avalos

On Wednesday, an arrest was made in the brutal killing of 10-year-old Anthony Avalos, a boy who had recently come out, saying he “liked boys” mere weeks before he was found covered in cigarette burns with severe head injuries. He died last Thursday.

32-year-old Kareem Leiva is in the custody of Southern California police, and he has been charged with murder. Leiva is reportedly a member of the violent gang MS-13, which has a branch in El Salvador that murders members if they are outed as gay.

Anthony’s uncle David Barron told The Los Angeles Times that Leiva was outspokenly homophobic, saying he was “uncomfortable just being around” gay men.

According to police, homophobia hasn’t yet been discussed as a motive in Avalos’ death.

Leiva is being held on a $2 million bail.

According to NBC News, Anthony told authorities in private interviews that he had been “locked up, beaten and not fed,” consistent information with the over 16 calls Child Protective Services had received about the boy and his siblings.

Still, Anthony remained in his mother’s care.

Following the arrest of Leiva, eight other children have been removed from the home.

"Nobody did anything. I don’t know why they thought that was OK for them to go back with their mother," said Karla Avalos, Anthony’s aunt. “What is wrong with the system?"

The boy was found unresponsive in his Lancaster home last week when his mother Heather Barron called police saying he had suffered a “fall.”

DCFS director Bobby Cagle told NBC News it was "premature" to describe Avalos's torture and death as a failure of the child welfare system. 

h/t: https://www.advocate.com/crime/2018/6/28/ms-13-gang-member-arrested-murder-10-year-old-gay-kid

h/t: https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/man-charged-killing-boy-10-who-reportedly-came-out-gay-n887221

10-Year-Old Boy Anthony Avalos Came Out Weeks Before Brutal Torture and Death

On June 20, 10-year-old Anthony Avalos was found unresponsive at his family’s home. He had suffered severe head injuries and cigarette burns covered his body. He died on the Thursday 21st.

On Sunday, The Los Angeles Times reported that at least 16 calls had been made to LA. County’s child abuse hotline and to local police before the boy’s death:

“Callers alleged that he or his six siblings had been denied food and water, beaten, sexually abused, dangled upside-down from a staircase, forced to crouch for hours, locked in small spaces with no access to the bathroom, and forced to eat from the trash.”

The L.A. Times reports just weeks before his death, Anthony came out as gay, saying he “liked boys.”

Anthony’s aunt Maria Barron repeatedly warned authorities about Anthony’s mother Heather Barron and her boyfriend Kareem Leiva. Leiva was convicted of domestic abuse in 2010.

Of course it’s impossible to not mention the parallels with the 2013 death of Gabriel Fernandez, the 8-year-old boy who was brutally tortured and killed by his mother and her boyfriend in Palmdale. Earlier this month, a judge sentenced Gabriel’s mother to life in prison; her boyfriend was sentenced to death.

Welfare officials had been in contact with Gabriel’s family, and saw signs of abuse. Four social workers are facing criminal charges in that case.

On Tuesday, the L.A. County Board of Supervisors ordered authorities in charge of child protection to examine the case of Anthony Avalos.

“This was an innocent child who suffered unspeakable abuse,” said Supervisor Kathryn Barger at the Board’s weekly meeting. She says the boy was murdered.

“You had teachers. You had family members. You had law enforcement come in contact,” Barger said. And yet Anthony is at the morgue. There is no question that we have to do better.”

h/t: http://www.latimes.com/local/lanow/la-me-ln-anthony-avalos-response-20180626-story.html

Man Who Murdered 3 Philly Gay Men in the 1980s Was Found Dead In Prison

A man who killed gay men in Philadelphia during the 1980s has been found dead in prison.

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, 50-year-old Arnold Mulholland’s unresponsive body was found in his cell at the State Correctional Institution-Mahanoy in Frackville, Pennsylvania around 6:17 Friday morning.

The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections later announced that Mulholland was pronounced dead around 7am, but they would not disclose the cause of death.

In 1990, Mulholland pleaded guilty to killing three gay men, Alexander Munchweiler, Tracy Griffin, and David Johnson. Each man differed in age with ages ranging from 24 to 61. This led to Mulholland being sentenced to three consecutive life sentences.

During this time, five other gay men were murdered in Philadelphia, which caused a frenzy in the gay community. Around 250 people marched around Center City for a “Save Our Streets” rally.

Investigators say that Mulholland, who was 22 at the time, targeted gay men because he thought of them as “sick.” He chose to rob them and stab them in their apartments after being invited in for sex.

That said, Mulholland later told the Inquirer in a previously published article from 1993, “I feel for the people. I regret it.” But he admitted to not remembering the men’s names, faces, or the fact that they had families.

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