NYC Man Arrested for Murder of Gay Lover
A 23-year-old man from New York City was arrested on Tuesday for strangling his 54-year-old lover, the New York Daily News reports.
On Feb. 9, Joseph Benzinger was strangled to death at a motel in Queens, NY, and was found with a t-shirt wrapped around his neck. Police arrested and charged Lleuyel Garcia with robbery and Benzinger’s murder. According to the authorities, Benzinger and Garcia had a relationship before the killing.
A police source told the newspaper that Garcia stole Benzinger’s wallet and cell phone and detectives used the victim’s phone to find Garcia. The source added that the suspect implicated himself in the crime as he admitted to being at the motel.
"I commend the swift action taken by the NYPD to make an arrest in the murder of Joseph Benzinger," Out NYC Council Member Daniel Dromm (D-Jackson Heights, Elmhurst) said in a statement. "Despite the arrest, it is vitally important that we continue to remain vigilant. The other murders committed against gay men remain unsolved but I am hopeful that the NYPD will capture the perpetrators. Again, I want to urge everyone that it is always important to practice safety whether meeting people online or in person."
Benzigner is one of three middle-aged gay men to be strangled in New York City in the past few weeks. David Rangle, 53, a middle school teacher, was strangled in his Queens apartment on Jan. 26 and Charles Romo, 48, was strangled to death in his apartment days later.
Although the other two cases are currently being investigated, the New York City Police Department claims that the killings are not connected. Police also said there were no signs of forced entry in all three cases and believe the men may have met their attackers online.
"It appears that the cases are not related with different suspects involved," NYPD Deputy Commissioner Paul Browne said.
Nevertheless, leaders in the area are still urging the LGBT community to be on alert, especially when meeting someone for the first time.
"There are people who have been known to go online and prey on LGBT people because they think that we’re a vulnerable community," Dromm told the media.