Could the gay Virginian who was murdered earlier this month have met his killers through an escort site?
Earlier this week, three people were charged in connection to the murder of a gay man named Jose I. Escobar Menendez. Menendez, 24, was found shot to death on a road in Sterling, Virginia. His body was found around 3:30 a.m. on July 8. The Advocate reports that 21-year-old Gavin C. Collins, 22-year-old Joshua M. Hunter, and 24-year-old Handy N. Colindrez were charged as suspects in Menendez’s case. Collins and Hunter were charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit robbery, and two counts of using a firearm while committing a felony. Collins also faces narcotics charges. Meanwhile, Colindrez was charged with grand larceny involving auto theft.
But how did Menendez’s death play out? According to a statement from the local sheriff’s office, “During the early morning hours of July 6, the victim agreed to meet Collins in the area of Emerald Point Terrace. During the course of their encounter a dispute occurred and the victim was shot and killed when Collins and Hunter attempted to rob him. Both Collins and Hunter then left the area, taking the victim’s car.”
According to an arrest warrant, Colindrez’s relation to the other two suspects is that he may have bought the car from them. Meanwhile, the sheriff’s office believes Menendez and Collins met online. A friend of Menendez also claimed, to a local newspaper, that the incident counts as an anti-gay hate crime, but the police have yet to classify it as such.
The Washington Blade came forward with new information about Hunter. It appears that Hunter worked through the gay escort service Rent.Men for the past two years. A former customer messaged the LGBTQ editorial, based in Washington, D.C., with a link to Hunter’s Rent.Men page. There, Hunter, using the fake name Anthony Adams, stated that he was “a very open person with no hang ups and open to all genders.”
After informing the Washington Blade to the account page, the former customer expressed shock at Hunter being connected to the murder.
“He was a gentle and friendly guest, so this just astonishes me,” the customer said. He then asserted the theory that, “Maybe he was more of an accessory to the crime (as wrong as that is) rather than the trigger man.”
That said, a Criminal Complaint filed against Hunter states that Hunter was a willing participant in the crime.
“Hunter and Collins communicated with the victim a planned location to meet,” the complaint explains. “Upon meeting in the area of Emerald Point Terrace (Loudoun County), Collins and Hunter used a handgun to demand Menendez’s vehicle. During the commission of the robbery, Menendez was shot and killed.”
And while the Loudoun County Sheriff’s Office has not provided information about which site the suspects and the victim used to interact, Rent.Men has a section stating that the site is not responsible for any crime or damages that happen offline.
“You understand and acknowledge that your use of the Site is at your own risk and that we are not responsible for any incidental, consequential, special, punitive, exemplary, direct or indirect damages of any kind whatsoever that may arise out of or related to your use of the Site, including any personal meetings or encounters you may engage in that may arise out of or relate to your use of the Site,” an ‘Assumption Risk’ messages on the site says.”
While the case continues, the sheriff’s office asks that anyone with information related to the case call Det. M. Grimsley at (703) 777-1021.