Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Double Homicide Was Likely A Hate Crime

Two elderly men found brutally murdered in their Decatur Township home are believed to be the victims of a hate crime. Both men were gay. Friends of Milton Lintgren and Eric Hendricks tell WRTV that the couple had been recently targeted because they were gay. WRTV reports:

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.

8 comments:

Jon E. Easter said...

This was a horrible crime, and it should be proscuted under hate crime legislation. Unfortunately, Indiana's General Assembly has not passed legislation like this. It's time to demand it. GLBT people are a part of this community, and they should be able to live their lives in peace and freedom and without fear. As a resident of Decatur Township, it shames me deeply that this happened in my community.

Downtown Indy said...

Aren't ALL murders hate crimes? What more does the law need to say/do about this case vs any other?

Advance Indiana said...

That's a worn out argument, downtown indy. Our criminal laws have always made distinctions in punishment meted out for crimes. And no, not all murders are hate crimes. A guy who kills a man in bed with his wife probably didn't have enough time to form an opinion. He snaps and shoots the guy. A guy holding up a liquor store has no particular feelings about the store clerk. He didn't even know the guy, but he instinctively shot him after the store clerk reached for a gun. He acted out of the necessity of the moment. They are all crimes of murder, but we have historically made distinctions when it comes to meting out punishment. Bias crimes can bring harm to an entire community of persons, not just the murder victim's family.

Lance Rasmussen said...

"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."

Good thing our court systems and police work on coincedence, and not trivial things like facts or evidence.

The debate about hate crimes laws aside, how does anybody prove at this stage in the game that these two men were in fact targeted because they were gay? So a note was left on their property...that proves absolutely nothing. I agree that it looks funny at this point, but why isn't a hypothesis that it was just a random killing any less credible?

Downtown Indy said...

You miss my intended point Gary. The problem isn't that we need more laws, we need better application of the ones we have. Pleading murder down to manslaughter is the problem and that's lazy or over worked prosecutors.

I have a similar problem with letting thugs back out after serving half a sentence. Good behavior in prison isn't a yardstick for measuring whether they'll have good behavior after release. Instead, stick 'em with more time if they misbehave in prison. If the crime has 20 years, then dadgummit you should do 20 years and not 10.

I dislike the invention of special cases, like 'hate crime' or '(fill in the blank with some kid's name) Law'.

In my eye's a murder for 'hate' is no better or worse than murder for 'slight dislike', 'just snapped' or 'robbed a liquor store' and they ALL should be treated equally (meaning: never see the light of day again). Otherwise, we've left 'all men are equal' in the dust and now some, when murdered, get a different kind of justice handed out to their killer than the rest do.

Murder is not something I see having varying shades of severity. No one is ever justly slightly killed.

Carrie said...

"That's a worn out argument, downtown indy. Our criminal laws have always made distinctions in punishment meted out for crimes. And no, not all murders are hate crimes. A guy who kills a man in bed with his wife probably didn't have enough time to form an opinion. He snaps and shoots the guy. A guy holding up a liquor store has no particular feelings about the store clerk. He didn't even know the guy, but he instinctively shot him after the store clerk reached for a gun. He acted out of the necessity of the moment. They are all crimes of murder, but we have historically made distinctions when it comes to meting out punishment. Bias crimes can bring harm to an entire community of persons, not just the murder victim's family."

Well, c'mon now, that is why we have 1st, 2nd, & 3rd degree murder and manslaughter. I don't think targeting a gay man is any different than targeting anyone else for murder. I don't want laws that say if you kill a gay man because you hate him, you're liable for a different amount of punishment than someone who killed aco-worker because he hated him, or an ex-wife, or any such thing. The crime is the murder, and the 1st/2nd/3rd degree etc allows for variance in motive.

Jason said...

Well, this smells more like a robbery than a hate crime.

I think hate crimes initially were a good idea, but criminal justice agencies across the country have shown an inability to demonstrate any rational discretion in their application. It's run completely amok.

Jon E. Easter said...

In this case, I find myself in complete and total agreement with you AI. That doesn't happen too often.