Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Fort Wayne Police Take Double Homicide Suspect Into Custody

A suspect in the killing of two Indianapolis men, who police say led "an alternative lifestyle", has been taken into custody by Fort Wayne police according to a WRTV report. Police arrested Chris Conwell this morning in connection with the deaths of Avery Elzy, 34, and Michael Hunt, 22, who were found dead in their home in the 5800 block of Rosslyn Avenue on December 26. WTHR has more here.

Indianapolis police are not saying how the victims were killed or speculating on possible motives. Police have also not explained what they meant by "alternative lifestyles." Photographs of Elzy with Hunt depict him as being dressed as a woman, although a family member referred to Elzy in the masculine. Speaking of the last time she spoke to her brother, Theresa Elzy told WTHR, "I called him an hour later and let him know I was not coming to his party," she said.

At least one GLBT blogger has been highly critical of the local news media reporting on this double homicide, complaining about their lack of reporting on the status of the victim's sexual orientation or gender identity. I don't think the criticism in this case is fair as evidenced by the WTHR interview with a family member.

As I've lamented in the past, Indiana is one of only a handful of states in the country without a hate crimes law. Adding further insult to injury, Indianapolis police dropped the tracking of the number of hate crimes committed during the administration of Mayor Bart Peterson a couple of years ago despite an Indiana law requiring the tracking of hate crimes. Marion Co. Prosecutor Carl Brizzi has advocated for the passage of a state law making so-called "bias crimes" an aggravating factor for allowing enhanced sentencing.

Ironically, the complaining GLBT blogger has been highly critical of this blogger's past reporting on hate crimes and has opposed the legislation backed by many in the GLBT community. I hasten to add that there is no indication at this point that their killings were related to what police call their "alternative lifestyle."

UPDATE: A story in today's Star sheds light on the circumstances surrounding the killing. The alleged killer apparently met one of the victims, Elzy, in an Internet chat room and had visited Elzy and Hunt a number of times. The story confirms Elzy considered himself transgender. "Elzy, whose given first name was Avery, was transgender and identified as female but had not undergone gender reassignment surgery, Theresa Elzy said." The story continues, Theresa Elzy said she didn't suspect Taysia (female name used by Avery) was targeted because of gender identity, but the family was sometimes concerned about Taysia's well-being. "Tay lets everybody know upfront from the beginning that she was a transgender," Theresa Elzy said. "We were more worried (about her safety) than she was." I would note that Elzy's sister, in the WTHR interview, referred to him as her brother.


M Theory said...

My question is why did the police mention his lifestyle at all? Are they trying to demonize cross dressers?

Gary R. Welsh said...

Melyssa, I think the police officer was trying to be respectful by saying "alternative lifestyle" instead of something more inflammatory like cross-dresser or trannie.

Jason said...

'bias crime' is a term I hadn't heard before. I like that a lot better than 'hate crime.' It seems a lot more fitting, and with the spirit of the law it makes more sense.

Ted said...


When counting the electoral votes, either Congress finds by 1/8/09 that Obama, not being an Article II “natural born citizen”, fails to qualify as President whereupon Biden becomes the full fledged President under 3 USC 19 (free to pick his own VP such as Hillary) or thereafter defers to the Supreme Court to enjoin Obama’s inauguration with Biden becoming only Acting President under the 20th Amendment until a new President is duly determined.

The preferable choice, at least for the Democrats, should seem obvious.

M Theory said...

My point is what difference does it make if he's a cross dresser? What does that have to do with the crime? I think they mention it in order to demonize anyone who is outside of they call "normal".

Did he strangle someone with pantyhose or choke them with a lipstick?