The friends of two elderly men found dead in their southwest-side home on Monday said they believe the men were killed because they were gay.
Milton Lindgren, 70, and Eric Hendricks, 73, were found dead Monday morning in their home at 9160 Middlebury Way. Police would not say how they were killed or how long their bodies had been inside the home, only that their deaths came by "violent means."
Patrick Beard, a friend of the victims, told 6News' Rick Hightower that he believed the men were targeted.
"I firmly believe it was definitely a hate crime. Milt was 70 and his partner was 73 and to go into someone's home and do something like that, it's just too coincidental," he said.
Police reports show that the men had their phone and cable lines cut twice in the past few months, and that anti-gay statements were posted on their front door.
Investigators said that while they do believe the vandalism was related to Lindgren and Hendricks being gay, that they didn't know if their killings were.
Beard's son, who also knew the victims, said he believes police will eventually reach the same conclusion he and his father have.
"I'm not a genius, but if someone's being harassed like that and fagot gets stamped on their door on a piece of paper, it's not that hard to connect the dots two months later that these two people are brutally killed in their home," Lee Beard said.
The friends said Hendricks was ill and confined to a wheelchair.
News of the mens' murders spread quickly through Indianapolis' GLBT community, which quickly identified the men as being gay in e-mail exchanges posted through a local list serve. "Many of us knew Milton, John Cannady wrote. "He was active in a number of GLBT organizations and a very nice man." Oddly, the Indianapolis Star has so far refused to report the obvious. While Vic Rychaert's story in today's Star acknowledges the men had been harassed recently and a note with a slur on it was left on their door, he makes no mention of the two men being gay or the fact that the slur used was "fagot."
Indiana remains one of only four states in the country without a hate crimes law. Efforts in recent years to enact one has been fiercely opposed by the religious right. The Indianapolis Star, too, has editorialized against such a law. When a Jackson County man, Aaron Hall, was beaten to death over a several-hour period by two young men last year after the man made a comment suggesting a gay sex act to one of the men, his case received little mention from the Star or other Indiana media. The so-called "gay panic defense" worked for the killers in this case. Both men were allowed to plead guilty to a charge of voluntary manslaughter instead of first degree murder charges and could be free in as few as 15 years.