Gay Puerto Rican Teen Decapitated, Dismembered, and Burned

Cayey

Over the weekend the brutalized body of gay teen George Steven Lopez Mercado was found by the side of a road in Puerto Rico. The police investigator suggested that he deserved what he got because of the "type of lifestyle" he was leading.

Mercado According to an iReport by Chrisopher Pagan: "On November 14 the body of a gay 19 year old was found a few miles away from the town in which he was residing in called Caguas. He was a very well known person in the gay community of Puerto Rico, and very loved. He was found on the site of an isolated road in the city of Cayey, he was partially burned, decapitated, and dismembered, both arms, both legs, and the torso.

This has caused a huge reaction from the gay community here, but its a difficult situation. Never in the history of Puerto Rico has a murder been classified as a hate crime. Even though we have to follow federal mandates and laws, many of the laws in which are passed in the USA such as Obama’s new bill, do not always directly get practiced in Puerto Rico. The police agent that is handling this case said on a public televised statement that 'people who lead this type of lifestyle need to be aware that this will happen'. As If the boy murdered Jorge Steven Lopez was asking to get killed…"

Jorge Here's a report on the murder (in Spanish) from PrimeraHora.com. Said activist Pedro Julio Serrano: "It is inconceivable that the investigating officer suggests that the victim deserved his fate, like a woman deserves rape for wearing a short skirt. We demand condemnation of this investigator and demand that Superintendente Figueroa Sancha replace him with someone capable of investigating this case without prejudice." (my translation, please suggest a better one if you can).

UPDATE 1: Suspect arrested.

UPDATE 2: Suspect claims self defense, "gay panic".

Comments

  1. kody says

    Nineteen. I can’t get over that. The brutality of this crime is staggering. The police need to go. In my opinion, the statement they made about his murder is complicit with the murderer. Whose side is the cop on? Wait, don’t tell me, the kid came on to some dude, and he got what he deserved. I hope the gay community over there shuts that precinct down. They need a stonewall riot now!

    Nineteen. Jesus.

  2. Dallas Dysfunction says

    I have spent much time in Puerto Rico and know both cities of Caguas and Cayey very well. I am shocked that something like this would happen and shocked at the Police response. In all my time there I never experienced any outright gay bashing or even major acts of homophobia. My thoughts and prayers are with the Mercardo Family and the Puerto Rican Gay Community.

  3. Christopher Pagan says

    YES THE FBI ACTUALLY HAS A MASSIVE HEADWAURTERS HERE IN SJ AND A FEDERAL COURT. BUT IT FIRST NEEDS TO BE CLASSIFIED AS A HATE CRIME, SINCE ACCORDING TO SOME IT ISINT…..

  4. Acceptance says

    This is absolutely horrible. I’m speechless. Indeed the superintendent should replace the investigating officer immeadiately. My thoughts are with his family and friends!

  5. Bill says

    I wrote it so many times; haterosexual police side with haterosexual criminals when it relates to gay people. I feel very sorry for George. It is likely a group of haterosexuals who he didn’t even know did this to him. When you add up the element of strangers killing him and the police’s lack of action it is likely no one will be caught. Yes, this is a hate crime. The brutality suggests a hate crime.

  6. New Jersey Girl says

    “…My thoughts and prayers are with the Mercardo…Posted by: Dallas Dysfunction”

    Oh yeah. That’ll help. Considering God Hates Fags. In fact, the murder of this boy is God’s just rewards for his life of SIN.

    Don’t you get it?

    Drop the Damn Bible and step away from the religion.

    If God wanted you to be a part of his religion, he would has prevented the attack from happening in the first place!

    That Said: Bash Back.

  7. AJay says

    BOYCOTT Puerto Rico … dollars speak volumes to certain governments. This crime sickens me – even the worst criminals are not treated like this. Barbaric, may the perpetrators suffer a death 10x slower, more brutal and barbaric!

  8. Rafael says

    “The investigating officer’s suggestion that the victim was looking to be killed is inconceivable. It’s like the absurd and false argument that a woman is looking to be raped if she wears a short skirt. We demand that this investigating officer resign from this case, and that Superintendent Figueroa Sancha replace him with someone capable of investigating this case without prejudice.”

  9. JT says

    I’ve always found Puerto Rico to be pretty cool about gays. It was a stupid thing for the one cop to say, yes, but otherwise we don’t know what this crime was about. Could have been an insane disgruntled ex-boyfriend for all we know so far.

  10. Norman says

    Hatecrime should be punished much harder than it is the case right now. This might help (I doubt it but still). R.I.P. George. Justice will be served hopefully !!

  11. SFshawn says

    Another senseless and brutal death at the hands of homophobia,religious dogma and intolerance. I hope the gay community in Puerto Rico DEMANDS justice from those who are entrusted with enforcing it. In the meantime hopefully gay cruise lines like Atlantis and RSVP will consider withdrawing Puerto Rico as a port of call if they don’t clean up their act.

  12. says

    This is absolutely disgusting. There isn’t even a word to describe how disgusting it is.

    “The hate crimes bill was passed and signed. Does the FBI have jurisdiction in Puerto Rico?”

    Yes. And they should use it. And we as a country should consider disowning PR if they don’t change their attitude.

    “All nasty homos should get this type of treatment”

    Fuck you.

  13. says

    Oh man am I ever glad I am in Canada. We have NO tolerence for such crime, and if the cops said that about a murder here you would wish yourself that you would be dead.

    I myself am 18, and bi-sexual, though I tend to lean on the gay side.

    Its really sad to see such hate crimes, let the man forever rest in peace, and that his death get revenged.

  14. says

    SFshawn: We don’t know what the motive of the killer was. I doubt this was the work of a garden variety gay basher. Most homophobes would not go to the trouble of dismembering, decapitating, and burning a corpse. That speaks to someone with a truly sick mind – going far beyond mere homophobia. Apparently, there was recently another murder in of a gay man in Condado – San Juan’s predominently gay neighborhood. But without knowing more about the victim or his death, it’s impossible to know if there is a pattern indicative of a serial killer.

    We do know, however, that the police response is totally unacceptable.

  15. Derrick from Philly says

    The above comments by JT and DALLAS are important to read here.

    The crime is horrible, the cop is a cruel bigot, and Puerto Rican society is NOT to blame for the act of a violent sadist.

  16. says

    Derrick, JT, and Dallas: you are correct. And, after thinking about it, I still intend to go to PR for my vacation. I have found most people to be very welcoming and inviting. But like any place, there are certain areas where you should be careful.

    Recently, a serial killer was uncovered in Cleveland, who had killed (at least) 11 African-American women. No one is suggesting that African-American women flee Cleveland.

    However, the Federal government must apply pressure on local law enforcement to ensure this case is prosecuted. And if there’s evidence that this is a hate crime, the Feds need to take over the investigation.

    Puerto Rico is far from perfect, but they are light years ahead of their neighbors Cuba, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Haiti. They are also far ahead of American Samoa, and no one is suggesting we withdraw their territorial status or boycott them is counter-productive.

  17. Gabe R L says

    Sad way for such a beautiful young boy to die. I have to wonder if anything will be done to apprehend his killer. Probably not. This is a reminder of the way gay men are hated, and the danger we all face if our sexual preference is known.

  18. John in Boston says

    Sad. The dismemberment probably had to do with trying to dispose of his body, not necessarily because he was gay and somebody was trying to leave a message.

    P.R. is pretty open and Ricans are generally cool people, but there’s A LOT of violent crime, especially away from the tourist areas.

  19. Bayley says

    Please keep us updated on this story. The police chief sounds like a pure THUG…and I hope the Puerto Rican gay community stands up and speaks up and is LOUD about taking action so this kind of thing never occurs again in their island!!

  20. casiano19 says

    Okay, I feel the need to address some of the comments on here. I was born and realized in Puerto Rico, although I have lived in the mainland for the past seven years. First, it makes no sense calling for a boycott on all things Puerto Rico. I mean… really? That’d “help” a lot, considering the economic situation on the island and how many members of the LGBT community work in the service industry, which would be severely affected. Second, “disowning” Puerto Rico? Hummmm, Puerto Rico is not under US jurisdiction by choice… the US invaded the island in 1898 when it declared war on Spain. The US gov’t has a less than stellar history when it comes to treating Puerto Rico and its people. Nonetheless, as far as I am concerned, the recent proliferation of radical evangelism and violent Christian rhetoric (all which comes from the mainland US) has changed the way Puerto Ricans look at things. There was a transgender woman murdered in DC a few weeks ago (I used to live there)… would you call for the US to drop DC as well? Or are you advocating (as has been often the case) different treatment for Puerto Rico because it is an island with Hispanic heritage? Let’s stay focused on the issues and how to address them as a community, instead of making senseless generalizations.

  21. warren says

    A faction of Puerto Ricans, since on July 25,1898 Puerto Rico was invaded by the USA and the elected government was throw out, have been attempting to get away from the U.S.A.
    Who would of though this would be the way to gain independence.
    Seeing so many want PR ejected as a colony in the US public.

  22. says

    Sorry about the hateful comments that were left here earlier, and thanks to the commenter who notified me about them. As I can’t moderate every comment on the site I depend on that. I’ve banned the commenter. Hopefully it will hold.

  23. says

    To the guy still going to PR for his vacation, one question: why? Vote with your dollars. There are plenty of places to go on this planet that are every bit as beautiful and fun. At least boycott the place until that cop is fired.

  24. KRISTINE says

    I’M IN COMPLETE SHOCK THAT A POLICE INVESTIGATOR WOULD SAY SOMETHING AS DISCRIMINATORY AS THAT!! IT’S COMPLETELY OUTRAGEOUS. HE DEFINITELY NEEDS TO BE PERMANENTLY REPLACED.

  25. Maria says

    I am from Puerto Rico an is very sad to get news like this one, and the comments that the police made a very cruel, is like they are saying it was his fault. My most sincere condolence to the family and friends of this boy.

  26. TANK says

    Wow. This is sickening beyon words, as is the degenerate police officer’s remarks. He OUGHT be suspended without pay pending an investigation into his behavior. Chances are that won’t happen, and this murder will remain unsolved given that the investigating officer basically said he’s unwilling to persue this crime competently. He might as well have said “god’s will, case closed”. Total scumbag. This has all of the markings of a hate crime given the mutilation of the corpse. But, it’s peurto rico…where crime’s a way of life.

  27. Juana Maria says

    Three things to keep the fight for protecting rights about EVERYONES rights—

    1. This crime is horrific.
    2. We don’t know who committed, nor their motivation.
    3. The cop’s offensive response was NOT translated correctly and that is offensive to me. What he said wasn’t right, but how it was translated was manipulative and therefore undermines rather than strengthens the point.

    “Este tipo de personas cuando se meten a esto y salen a la calle saben que esto les puede pasar.”

    This type of person, when they are involved in this and go out on the street, know that this can happen.

    That is what the police officer is quoted as saying in Spanish.— NOT that “they NEED to know that this WILL happen.”

  28. Tina says

    Puerto Rico’s Police Department needs to have Cultural Sensitivity Trainings…I can’t understand that anyone can make a statement such as this one…regardless of someones sexual preferences he was someones child and no one deserves to die in such a manner…my heart goes out to the Mercados Family…I pray they catch the Monster that did such a hate crime and have no mercy on their freedom…

  29. says

    This is totally apaulling. If a punishment does not befall this officer for his accusations, then this case should be brought to a higher power by the gay community, and not dropped until True Justice is Served. This is just horrifying. =(

  30. New Jersey Girls newest enemy says

    New Jersey Girl, you need to go back to your trailer park and fuck your brother again. If I wanted your opinion, I’d ask you to pop that co** out of your mouth first!

  31. TANK says

    “The crime is horrible, the cop is a cruel bigot, and Puerto Rican society is NOT to blame for the act of a violent sadist.”

    Well said, Derrick. And I couldn’t agree more. We all know that homophobic attacks (which this likely is in light of its sheer brutality), have absolutely NOTHING to do with the cultural messages that underpin homophobia. They aren’t symptoms of a sick society. That’s just crazy talk. Instead, they’re just the individual choices of certain people (a whole lot of them) acting alone who are responding to nothing but their own beliefs and prejudices generated in a vacuum. Just like sexism and racism aren’t at all symptoms of harmful broad cultural beliefs (memes, if you will…) that are expressed by domestic violence and racist hiring practices. No…they’re just individuals (lots of them!) who choose to do this because they made it up on their own, and didn’t learn it from anyone or anything. Of course, their behavior can’t be extrapolated to assess the magnitude of virulence of oppressive (e.g., homophobia, sexism, racism) beliefs in a given group. Not all men beat their wives, so clearly it’s [not] MEN’S VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN. Not all white people were in the klan, so clearly RACISM IS[n’t] A WHITE PROBLEM in the u.s. Not all heterosexuals are homophobic…

    Racism and homophobia don’t precipitate hate crimes at all. Just like sexism doesn’t cause domestic violence. These are just isolated incidents that couldn’t be predicted, carried out by crazy people…and should not be understood in a societal context that can be useful in isolating the perpetrators of these offenses and oppressions to adequately characterize the problem; specifically, in the widely held beliefs that certain humans aren’t “people”.

    Bravo!

  32. TANK says

    And we all know that toxic religious hate speech doesn’t foment antigay attitudes and lead to antigay violence, and antigay oppression like voting away rights. C’mon…how could it possibly do that? Beliefs cause behavior? Pshaw…isanity. Religion couldn’t do any of that…those are just crazy people, completely unaffected by their environments…

  33. casiano19 says

    I have to say that I am very concerned with some of the comments on here, which have turned this discussion about a horrible crime against a member of the LGBT community into a condemnation of the Puerto Rican society at large. Such comments are biased and discriminatory. I guess some members of the LGBT community have more in common with right-wing bigots than they would like to admit. Okay, on with the important stuff:

    1. The police has identified a 28 yr old suspect in the case.

    2. Please join the following Facebook group (which already has about 2,600 members): http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=320548070102

    3. Support the following petition to Atty. General Holder requesting that the FBI assert jurisdiction in the case: http://salsa.wiredforchange.com/o/6006/p/dia/action/public/?action_KEY=407

    4. I haven’t lived in Puerto Rico in seven years, but rest assured: my brothers and sisters of the Puerto Rican LGBT community WILL NOT REST until ALL aspects of this case (cop’s statement included) are addressed and properly taken care of.

  34. Vin says

    holy shit, decapitated and limbs dismembered? what the fuck is wrong with people? So what if he is gay, he’s still a living being. Would you decapitate and partially burn a kitten because it lived a different lifestyle than you?

  35. shawn says

    I read the investigator’s comment as saying we need to be careful because we’re in a world where this DOES happen. I don’t see it as him saying the kid deserved it, but I could be wrong…

  36. Robert says

    just because the victim happened to be gay, does not mean it was a hate crime, you never know what kind of people he was assiciated with or what business he had on the street. not trying to justify, just looking at it from all angles

  37. brian says

    I have a home on Vieques Island (a territory off the coast of Puerto Rico). Vieques is the new Provincetown for the Caribbean and has many many gay people who are homeowners, taxpayers, etc. and have businesses there.

    Come to Vieques Island, its beautiful and safe. As for San Juan, it is crime ridden and I wouldn’t bother anyways, its a dump by the beach and homophobic and disgusting.

  38. Jonathan Frohawk. says

    One of the most saddest thing I have read on facebook. Sitting hear crying. And I ask myself what is that going to do? Nothing! I cant belive the police can say such a thing like this. It makes me weep to think that such a young man will never get to live the life if so should have had. My heart and all my love goes out to all his family and friends. Xx

  39. Jonathan Frohawk. says

    One of the most saddest thing I have read on facebook. Sitting hear crying. And I ask myself what is that going to do? Nothing! I cant belive the police can say such a thing like this. It makes me weep to think that such a young man will never get to live the life if so should have had. My heart and all my love goes out to all his family and friends. Xx

  40. Jonathan Frohawk. says

    One of the most saddest thing I have read on facebook. Sitting hear crying. And I ask myself what is that going to do? Nothing! I cant belive the police can say such a thing like this. It makes me weep to think that such a young man will never get to live the life if so should have had. My heart and all my love goes out to all his family and friends. Xx

  41. casiano19 says

    Okay, the suspect HAS BEEN CAUGHT and DID CONFESS: http://www.primerahora.com/diario/noticia/policia/noticias/confiesa_crimen_de_odio_asesino_del_joven_homosexual/344856

    As for the speculation regarding the case being a hate crime: it is. And now the following battle begins… the killer is getting ready to assert the “gay panic” defense, which has been successful in some cases, the latest I can remember was a horrible assault case near the establishment formerly known as “Be Bar” in Washington, DC. As part of the defense, the guy essentially argues that he didn’t know “she” was a “he” and that it “freaked him out” and felt threatened somehow and killed the kid. A whole lot of bullsh*t, if you ask me. I say, prosecute it as a hate crime and go for the maximum sentence!

  42. Rafael says

    As a gay puertorican now living in FL, I am shocked and horrified about this incident. PR never been too open about gays but the time I lived there I never seen this kind of news. I am sure there will be an investigation because this is not right and a message needs to be sent to all those haters and the people who justify them. Hopefully the PR gay community can unite and openly protest about this crime

  43. Kimberly elliott says

    That iz aweful how cud u do sumpn like that t0 sum0ne n b able t0 live ur normal life wat if that wuz ur friend or brother or sum0ne close n that police agent from wat wuz said he duznt have a heart either hes against gays or mayb hes a crooked agent im a bi sexual n i thnk tht gay love iz the best kind of love the ppl that did this to that poor proud to b gay boy nd to b tortured the same way n i hope they get it t00

  44. Jakey says

    This brakes my heart!!!! I hope justice is served in George’s sake! People are so ignorant it hurts! It almost makes me afraid! Especially in the environment I work in!!! I live in AZ btw! Everywhere it seems, this type of hate exists!!!!!!!!!!!!

  45. Mel C says

    The FBI has jurisdiction in PR, because PR is a territory of the US (although, we’re actually called an Associated Free State of the US). Anyways, what the police detective said was “this type of people,” not “people who lead this type of lifestyle.” That, to me, makes it worse. That investigator needs to be disciplined. I am Puerto Rican, and I am not gay, but I have family who is and I love them very much. I feel for the family of this young man. He is now resting in peace, but his family and friends are suffering horribly over this tragedy. My prayers to all (and I’m also Catholic) to heal and forgive.

  46. Curtis says

    I think that is the sickest thing I have ever heard. When I was stationed on my ship I got jumped and my ass kicked for being gay. I thought that was bad and sick but this is… There is no statement that can be made for the reaction I got. People need to mind their own fucking business and quit being such closed minded asshole. This isnt the 1800s. Deal with it fuckers!

  47. Curtis says

    And one more thing. That dip shit investigator… Needs to take a good look in the mirror and then slam his head into it for being so stupid. NOONE DESERVES THAT IDIOT! EXCEPT PEOPLE WHO THINK THAT!

  48. Phil says

    New Jersey Girl suggests “God Hates Fags” is representative of Christian values. It is not. The fundamental Christian value is “Love Thy Neighbour As Thyself”. I can only assume Fred Phelps who uses the phrase referred to hates himself. Please don’t assume that everyone who claims to be a Christian is a Christian or that everyone who refers to the Bible interprets it in the same manner. Don’t blame religion for the faults and failures of humankind towards each other.

  49. Eriberto Vargas says

    I can not beleive this story. Why can we gays live in peace? We are human and being gay should not be a hateful lifestyle. I feel that if a person does not like gays, then that person should let gays be and walk away. People should accept us gays and people should stay away from gays if they do not like gays. I am tired of gay haters killing and mistreating gays and then the haters loving God. My heart goes out to the family and may God give them comfort during this holiday season. We are queer and we are here.

  50. jose says

    mis mas sinceras condelencias a la familia de la victima, y del acusado pues las 2 estan muy triste por la perdida, y trauma de los ocisos, espero que esta mala accion traiga mejoras en las cortes de Puerto Rico para la proteccion de los gays de Puerto Rico.

  51. howard says

    yes, because this man was gay – he deserves MORE justice than if he was not. people, the police office quoted here – did not MEAN this guy deserved his fate. for many people of puerto rico, english is not their primary language – spanish is. i suspect the office simply used words that were close equivalents/representative of english counterparts. the police i have met in puerto rico were actually far more professional than their mainland america counterparts. so, let the police do their job – and go find some issues of real substance to bitch about.

  52. G.H says

    This is so disgusting,

    And only two weeks ago another hate crime occurred against a transexual woman, murderred in her own home. When will this hate end in Puerto Rico? I’m embarrassed to say that I am a gay Puerto Rican woman due to the ignorance in my Island. I can’t even live in my own country! I demand a protest for Gay rights, for gay support and services in all towns! not just “el area metropolitana” I will be heading to Puerto Rico in August. If you’re with me and want to make this movement happen, want to mobilize the gay community so that our voices canbe heard shoot me an email…enough is enough! ( dscmdal@gmail.com)

  53. Richard says

    This breaks my heart. I have never been to Puerto Rico but it is on my destinations. He did not deserve that. Anyone with a normal mind knows this. I still want to experience Puerto Rico for the beauty and not this sort of ignorance.

  54. Terrible Event says

    @New Jersey Girl,

    Keep your angry, biased opinions to yourself. Die with your beliefs and let others die with theirs.

    Anyway, I know this was two years ago, but since I’m just hearing (or rather, reading) about this, it’s still depressing.

  55. Francis says

    This crime puts what is happening currently in Puerto Rico into perspective. Unfortunately, Puerto Rico is not a welcoming place for LGBT people and they need our support and worldwide support for the horrific murders that have taken place against LGBT citizens in the past year.

  56. says

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