The Advocate reports that the gay men were beaten, dragged by their hair, and threatened with a knife. Malone, who lost a tooth in the attack, said one of the assailants slashed at his stomach and his head with a knife, intending to stab him. “He swung it at my stomach and then swung it back up at my face,” Malone said. In a defensive move, Malone kicked off the stiletto heels he was wearing, and used them to back the attackers off.
In their interview with KATU, the three men vividly recalled the chaos and fear they felt as their assailants pressed their assault:
“I was on the ground and they reached over and punched him in the face.”
“All I saw was blood all over his mouth.”
“I was in shock. I felt my tooth go into my tongue and I spit it out onto the ground.”
“All I remember is hearing somebody yell there was a knife.”
“He swung it at my stomach and then swung it back up at my face.”
A passing cyclist aided the victims, and the gang of attackers ran from the scene, leaving the trio scarred, bruised, and shaken, but thankful they were not injured more seriously from the sudden, savage assault. Hundreds from the community have responded with messages of support and comfort to the victims, and have donated money to help with medical expenses. In one overwhelming expression of generosity, a local dentist replaced Malone’s broken tooth with a temporary replacement, and pledged to complete the permanent dental replacement later.
Hughes, Malone, and Miller reported the attack as an anti-gay hate crime, but they are not optimistic about anyone being apprehended and charged in the case. They understand that their costumes were provocative, and that some might not appreciate their taste, but they never imagined that irrational hatred could turn the evening so brutal. All three gay men are clear, however, that nothing they did provoked the attack, and they are determined to remain strong and proud in their gender presentations and identities. As Malone told EDGE Boston, they are not going to let this experience change who they are, “Not even for a second.”
Carrollton, Texas – The body of a savagely murdered 22-year-old gay man was found by his housemate in his home in this Dallas suburb on Friday. Police, who are classifying the investigation as a murder case, are not releasing his identity. The victim, known by his circle of friends, fellow church members, and work associates as “Shawn,” was found by Tony Adams who shared a home with him in the 2100 block of Placid Drive. Adams discovered the body upon returning home from work. According to the Dallas Voice, the victim was a well-regarded actor in the Dallas arts community, along with Adams.
“Shawn’s” identity has been complicated because he was known by a stage name he had assumed in the theater, and enjoyed using the name as his own in real life. As of Monday, it is not clear whether “Shawn’s” family has been contacted about the homicide.
Both Adams and the victim attended the Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas where Rev. Colleen Darraugh is the pastor. Pastor Darraugh is quoted by the Dallas Voice as saying that blood covered much of the house. “Evidently it was a brutal beating,” she said, intimating that knives may have been used in the fatal attack. The MCC of Greater Dallas is collecting money to help Adams with the crime-scene cleanup, and with replacing clothing and furnishings that were destroyed in the crime. In an email sent to congregational members and friends, Pastor Darraugh wrote, in part:
“Tony Adams Schmidt is a friend and colleague who some of you know through his work on sound and lighting at Metropolitan Community Church of Greater Dallas and others know through his acting, directing, sound and lighting work in community theatre.
“We regret to share with you that Tony’s housemate, Shawn – whom many of you also know – was brutally killed in their home. The police are actively investigating to apprehend the culprits and to find the motive for this extreme violence.
“We share in grief at the death of Shawn and pray for his family and all of his friends.
“We surround Tony with love and support, praying for him as he deals with his grief and the shock of finding such a horrific scene.”
The email goes on to detail how donations can be made online to the church’s Benevolence Fund.
The nature of the murder, whether it was related to the victim’s sexual orientation, and how the murder gained access to the home are open questions for the LGBTQ community of Dallas and its surrounding suburbs. As the story unfolds, Unfinished Lives will continue to monitor police reports and the media to ensure this terrible crime does not disappear from the community’s sight.
Johnston, Rhode Island – A 24-year-old bisexual man suffered severed tendons and nerves in his left wrist after being slashed with a Japanese katana, a samurai sword. The victim says he believes the attack was motivated by hatred for his sexual orientation.
WJAR-TV News reports that David Teague III was injured during a fight that started outside a home in Johnston early Saturday morning. Though drinking had been involved, Teague says his assailant cut him because of animosity toward his bisexuality. The attacker allegedly yelled a homophobic slur at Teague as he pressed his attack. The victim believes that the assault was no accident, and was a hate crime. “The next day I sat there wondering if my sexuality had anything to do with it,” Teague said to News 10. “I just want justice. He used a derogatory word that has to do with being homosexual. I believe he used his anger towards homosexuals to commit this crime against me.”
Investigators agree that there was a homophobic slur used by Teague’s attacker, but they say the slur alone is not enough to warrant a hate crime investigation. They pledge to pursue the anti-bisexual motive if they uncover more evidence supporting the claim. Boston.com says that a group of men outside the Johnston house were drinking that evening, when a quarrel broke out between Teague and his as-yet-unidentified assailant. When the two men started fighting, some of the other drinkers got involved, and at some point the assailant, yelling the slur, picked up the sword and slashed Teague’s wrist. WJAR-TV News took a statement from a woman on Monday who has disputed Teague’s account, blaming Teague for the fight. Johnston Police have charged her with obstruction of justice, believing that she tried to divert investigators’ attention away from her boyfriend, the prime suspect in the slashing attack. Police have also charged two men with disorderly conduct.
Teague is currently facing no charges in relation to the attack. “I just wish this wasn’t about sexuality. Even though there might be enough to substantiate a claim of hate crime, I still feel hated,” he said.
Lincoln, Nebraska – “I am not a pawn in a game, you know. I am a person.” Charlie Rogers, the victim of an alleged hate crime mutilation in the Nebraska capital city spoke out for the first time in an extended interview on KETV Omaha on Thursday. Rogers, a 33-year-old small business owner who lives openly as a lesbian, said she decided to grant the interview in response to media reports that police were investigating if her report was a hoax.
The five-minute interview shows the passion and hurt Ms. Rogers feels as the victim of a horrific home invasion, allegedly by three masked men early on Sunday who stripped her, bound her with zip ties, carved anti-gay slurs into her flesh, and then attempted to set the house on fire. Her harrowing experience did not end with a stay in the hospital and then in a safe house where she has been recovering since the attack. Now Ms. Rogers has to deal with the suspicions unleashed by doubts about her report of what happened to her in the dead of night in her own home. “It feels like a kick in the stomach,” she told KETV, even though she understands that there will always be doubters. “Being a victim in situation like this or a survivor and then having your integrity questioned, I guess, it feels very victimizing again,” Rogers said. “It makes an already difficult situation more difficult because my world has been changed forever by these events.” Lincoln Police Officer Katie Flood suggested to NBC that they were investigating all aspects of the case, including whether Ms. Rogers made the whole thing up. The media seized on the suggestion of a hoax immediately, sensationalizing the story of this outrage into an inquest into the victim’s credibility.
Investigators found three spray-painted anti-gay epithets in Ms. Rogers’ home, including one that read, “We Found U Dyke!” Coupled with the victim’s report that the attack was motivated by homophobia, and the slurs sliced into her skin, all these factors have led police to proceed as if this case was a hate crime based on sexual orientation.
But the hate crime investigation notwithstanding, Lincoln’s populace is reportedly plagued by doubts. Speculation mounted in the days before Ms. Rogers’ interview–“what if…?”
Ms. Rogers’ attorney, Megan Mikolajczyk, told CNN that her client wanted to dispel as much of the doubt as she could. Mikolajczyk said she wasn’t surprised that there were people who wondered if the attack really ever happened at all. She also said that Ms. Rogers was not answering any one person’s doubts in particular. “I don’t think it’s safe or necessary to point the finger at any one individual,” Mikolajczyk said. “I think it’s par for the course for any sort of high-profile incident for people to question what happened.”
Sadly, Ms. Rogers’ attorney is right: it is “par for the course” for doubts to be raised about the veracity, mental state, motives, and character of LGBTQ hate crimes victims whenever they are targeted by violent attacks. Such suspicion may or may not aid investigators to arrive at the truth in cases like this one, but it surely re-victimizes the person wounded or killed in such attacks. “We-doubt-you” stories in the press and on TV also rob many of these outrageous crimes of their news worthy power to draw badly needed national attention to the soaring increases in anti-LGBTQ hate crimes. Blame and besmirch the victims of hate crimes is one of the leading ways heterosexist communities control gay people, as dozens of stories on the Unfinished Lives Blog show. One has to wonder whether statements of police officers to the media about hoaxes are less about the search for forensic truth than the desperation of the status quo to stay intact when revelatory events begin to disturb the public.
Ms. Rogers, an avid LGBTQ advocate, community volunteer, and former University of Nebraska basketball star, deserves a great deal of credit for coming forward to set the record straight, and to quell as much of the doubt as she can. Time will tell who is right, but time is also of the essence as the trail of the alleged attackers grows increasingly cold. Many in Lincoln, hundreds of not thousands, do believe Charlie Rogers, and support her full recovery even as they remain watchful that police investigators carry out a thorough, speedy search for the truth in this case, and expeditiously bring these hate criminals to justice.
Paris, Texas – Hate crimes charges were dropped against an East Texas man in the notoriously savage bashing of a gay man in Reno, a community in Lamar County, last Halloween weekend. The Paris News reports that Daniel Shawn Martin, 33, arrested along with two other suspects on November 1 for attacking 26-year old gay man, Burke Burnett on the night of October 30, 2011, is now free with all charges dropped. Martin contended that he was not present at the Halloween Party where Burnett was slashed and stabbed with a broken beer bottle, beaten, and then thrown bodily into a lit burn barrel while his assailants yelled anti-gay slurs. The Lamar County District Attorney, Gary Young, announced that all charges have been dropped against Martin.
KETR Radio reports that several witnesses came forward to corroborate Martin’s claim that he was not at the Reno party when Burnett was brutalized. Burnett himself affirmed that Martin was not a party to the assault that nearly cost him his life, leaving him with over 30 stitches and second-degree burns.
Two other suspects, James Mitchell Laster III and Mickey Smith, were found guilty of carrying out the homophobic attack, and are now serving prison terms.