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Suspect Arrested in Horrific Murder of Puerto Rican Gay Teen

Yesterday I posted about the murder of gay 19-year-old Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado, whose body was found decapitated, dismembered, and partially burned by the side of the road near the Puerto Rican town of Cayey. The police investigator suggested that he deserved what he got because of the "type of lifestyle" he was leading.

Jorgemercado Today, the paper Primera Hora reports that a 28-year-old man has been arrested as a suspect in the murder and and two vehicles have been seized as evidence. The man is scheduled to be questioned today.

The paper reports that the man was targeted after extensive interviews with Mercado's friends in the town of Caguas, where Mercado was living. They report that the man offered Mercado money for sex.

Harry Rodriguez of the FBI said the agency is monitoring the case, and is willing to provide assistance, if necessary, in the investigation with regard to DNA evidence.  Said Rodriguez: "The FBI is monitoring this investigation with the police of Puerto Rico because there are federal statutes under the laws of civil rights violations covered by hate crimes."

Allegations of homophobia against the investigating officer Angel Rodriguez, who suggested that Mercado deserved what he got because of the "type of lifestyle" he was leading, were dismissed by the supervising officer Jose Figueroa Sanchez.

They were, however, condemned by Executive Director of the Civil Rights Commission Vance Thomas, who said: "In addition to investigating, administrative charges must be filed. I know of no context in which an officer can justify that a person ought to be killed."

Note: this is my translation of the article. I'm sure it's not perfect. Spanish speakers, please let me know if I have anything terribly wrong.

Activist Pedro Julio Serrano, who is also Communications Manager for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, released a statement to Towleroad expressing optimism about the arrest and warning against judging the victim:

"Even when everyone is innocent until proven guilty, it is hopeful that they have arrested a suspect. We're grateful for the Police work that has acted promptly and we trust that the investigation digs into the hate crime angle and if it is proven that it was indeed bias-related, that the criminal is processed to the full extent of the law....We urge the media and the authorities not to judge the victim, but the criminal who committed this horrendous crime. Even if there are particular circumstances in which this crime was committed, we have to keep the attention where it deserves to be: a young gay man was brutally murdered by someone who did not have any compassion or respect for the dignity of a human life."

Cayey Michael Lavers at Edge reports that disciplinary action has been taken against the officer and that local activists are planning a protest in San Juan on Thursday.

AmericaBlog has set up an action center for people to email Attorney General Eric Holder and FBI Director Robert Mueller asking them to investigate whether a hate crime was committed, although from the article it sounds like the FBI is on it.

VIGIL

There will be a vigil held in New York City in downtown Manhattan - location TBA on Sunday at 8 pm. Here's a page of information on it, and here's a Facebook page.

Previously...
Gay Puerto Rican Teen Decapitated, Dismembered, and Burned [tr]

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Comments

  1. Thank god they found the bastard. Can we dispense with the trial and just take him out behind a shed and shoot him?

    Posted by: Keith Kimmel | Nov 17, 2009 9:27:46 AM


  2. Whatever the comments of the investigating officer, it's clear that police in Puerto Rico were on the job. That's more than I can say for the police in Milwaukee when Jeffrey Dahmer was at large or those in Cleveland when Anthony Sowell was doing his thing.

    Posted by: Hank | Nov 17, 2009 9:28:16 AM


  3. I think he gets a trial first, Kimmel. (Or with John Wayne Gacy getting away with it for so long, Hank).

    Posted by: JT | Nov 17, 2009 9:41:55 AM


  4. Puerto Rican's always have such big dicks. Just sayin'.

    Posted by: eric | Nov 17, 2009 10:12:56 AM


  5. If the local authorities don't investigate this properly, the Department of Justice will take over. And that officer will either be out of a job in a few months, or worse, under indictment for obstruction of justice.

    For those who continue to ask why there was a decade long battle in Congress over hate crimes legislation, this case is illustrative. We're witnessing the power of the new hate crimes legislation. Two months ago, Puerto Rico could've done whatever the Hell Puerto Rico wanted with a case like this. Now, they're being "monitored" - which is diplomatic speak for what's essentially an intervention threat.

    Posted by: John | Nov 17, 2009 11:29:38 AM


  6. I think the term "eye for an eye" should be in play here.

    Posted by: ModelMcDaniels | Nov 17, 2009 12:18:20 PM


  7. You know where this is going and he'll get a light sentence in this machismo shithole.

    FROM: Babelfish Translation...

    Suspect confesses to homosexual murder.

    Subject assures that he killed the boy after he noticed that he was not a woman as thought. By French Rosario and Javier Columbus

    A man identified like Juan Antonio Martinez Matos, of 26 years, confessed this morning to have assassinated to the young homosexual Jorge Steven Lopez Market in facts happened the past Friday.

    The public prosecutor Jose J. Bermúdez obtained the confession of the individual, that said to him that it committed the act after which Lopez Market “insinuated itself to him sexually” in the residence of the victimario, in the sector Breezes of the Silver, in Citron.

    Possible assassin of the young homosexual murdered identified

    The public prosecutor explained that after which Martinez Matos noticed that the person accompanying him was a man arose a discussion, during who the young homosexual asked for money to him, that was denied to him.

    Later, according to the story of the assassin confeso, Lopez Market removed a dagger, that the victimario snatched to him and was buried it in the neck.

    The public prosecutor needed that Martinez Matos, father of four children, went to the area of the urban helmet of Caguas “looking for women”. After which their approaches to several féminas were rejected, Martinez Matos allowed to Lopez Market - that dressed a blue suit and dull - to approach their vehicle.

    The arrested one assured the public prosecutor to him who understood that the person who had mounted in the automobile she was a woman. Nevertheless, when finding out that he was a man, it angered supposedly when remembering that it had been abused sexually in a jail while fulfilled a sentence by domestic violence.

    Bermúdez indicated that doubt does not fit to him that the murder of Lopez Market fulfills the requirements for a processing like hatred crime.

    The murder of Lopez Market, of 19 years, detected Friday the past, when it appeared a body cut in pieces and burnout in the district Guavate de Cayey. Since then the Police, with the help of the Federal Negotiated one of Investigaciones (FBI) analyzes the death.

    They inspect house

    While, the personnel of the Institute of Ciencias Forense (ICF) decided to inspect the septic well of the residence where confeso lives the assassin.

    In the patio of the house one was a wig, matress burned, a burned tube PVC, a knife and spots of blood in a wall.

    Relatives of the suspect observed from a contiguous house without issuing declarations. Nevertheless, one was identified like father of the arrested one.

    Gay reacts the community

    After the arrest of last night, activists of the lésbica community, gay, bisexual, transsexual and transgénero (LGBTT) have reiterated their call so that the Police takes care of the crime like one motivated by hatred. Nevertheless, until the moment, he does not have himself detailed which will be the positions to take root against the suspect.

    “Even though him blanket the innocence presumption, is hopeful that has arrested a suspect to commit so atrocious crime. We recognize, in first instance, the work of the Police that investigated this horrible murder quickly. We trust that the investigation demonstrates finally if this murder were committed by prejudice to the sexual direction of Jorge Steven and being thus, that is processed like a hatred crime, yet the weight of law”, indicated the activist gay, Pedro Mountain Julio in written declarations.

    On the other hand, the also defending one of human rights asked that the attention is not turned aside on the circumstances in which it happened east murder and that does not judge the victim, but to the criminal who committed the crime. This presumably must that to the young person prostituía when the facts happened.

    “When recognizing the work of the press, who gave alert voice and dealt with sensitivity this case, we asked that even though can or have particular circumstances in which it happened the murder, that does not turn aside the attention truly than is not important: a young person of 19 years was killed his to the assassinated being vilely by whom did not have compassion, nor minimum sensitivity to the human dignity. Here we must investigate, process and give its due process of law to the criminal. We cannot allow that some to a victim is judged of way who no longer lives and who cannot defend itself”, she sentenced Serrano.

    Posted by: Marc C | Nov 17, 2009 12:36:49 PM


  8. Marc C. : Reducing Puerto Rico to a "machismo shithole" is out-of-line. It's a varied island with varied people, including a thriving gay community.

    Posted by: JT | Nov 17, 2009 12:47:25 PM


  9. Marc C: You're a shithead.

    Posted by: Hank | Nov 17, 2009 12:59:40 PM


  10. PS. Is says a lot for police in Puerto Rico that the investigator who made the offensive remark was relieved of duty and placed on administrative leave. This is not the kind of thing you'd see anywhere else in the Carribean, nor in a good may U. S. states.

    Posted by: Hank | Nov 17, 2009 1:06:17 PM


  11. Mark C, you are a major, first-class @$$hole for reducing Puerto Rico and its wonderful people to such an idiotic, ignorant, biased and STUPID remark as "this machismo shithole". The only "shithole" is you. The effluvia that spews forth from your obviously tweaked-out brain would contaminate a NYC sewer drain. By the way, Babelfish stinks as a translator.

    By the way, Eric, honey, why don't you keep your dumb-ass, bigoted, "just-sayin" remarks to yourself? Maybe you and Mark C. should get to know one another. I mean, hell, you low-lifes should stick together, right? Just sayin.

    Posted by: mike | Nov 17, 2009 1:23:33 PM


  12. Yeah, how dare we ever reflect that homophobic hate crimes are symtpoms of a sick society where this type of behavior is either overty or covertly encouraged. These say nothing about the degree of homophobia and sexism in puerto rico! It's just some lone crazy person who came up with these ideas that gay people weren't human beings and he had the right to kill one on his own...in a vacuum. Just like sexism and racism are, too...they have ZERO connection to broad based social beliefs and practices. Just isolated incidents of crazy people for racism, sexism, and any other oppression...see, these aren't social problems at all.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 17, 2009 1:52:38 PM


  13. I often wonder which more stupid...the rightwing who talks of the white male as being the most powerless minority in the u.s., or the leftwing who cries racism whenever a minority is brought up in a realistic way.

    Hmmmmmmmmmm, both are pretty dumb...and both have great representation in these threads.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 17, 2009 1:55:38 PM


  14. But, Tank, we never seem to want to blame the murders of straight males by Gacy, Dahmer, Panzram, Bonin, Nilsen, etc. etc. on heterophobia in society. That blame game is really just one of those things silly Sociology professors at colleges like to play around with.

    Posted by: JT | Nov 17, 2009 2:15:48 PM


  15. Right, JT! You hit the nail on the head with that one. John Wayne Gacy (who savagely murdered 33 young men and boys THAT WE KNOW ABOUT) is certainly comparable to this murderer--and matthew shepard's killers, too! And heterophobia was definitely operative in Dahmer's midnight snacking...he was straight panicked!

    JT, I'm curious...are you, um...a vegetable?

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 17, 2009 2:30:13 PM


  16. "It's just some lone crazy person who came up with these ideas that gay people weren't human beings and he had the right to kill one on his own...in a vacuum."

    But there have been psychopaths who like to cut up young males for sexual pleasure for centures, TANK. (of course, we don't know if there was a sexual component here, but it seems like it to me)

    Does homophobia breed sadistic killers of gay people? It's possible. But, as JT just mentioned, look at the list of men who like to sexually assault, kill & mutilate men and boys. Did homophobia cause them to kill? I don't understand your point, TANK.


    WTF are you talking about, TANK? This is about a horrible murder & mutilation of an openly gay man in Puerto Rico. But it aint got a damn thing to do with anything peculiar to Puerto Rico or Puerto Rican culture. Do cultures with "machismo" have a higher rate of murder/mutilations of young males? Well, then, the US midwest must be the most machismo place in the world...there are probably boy bones buried all over the fuckin' place.

    "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto...we're in Illinois: land of John Wayne Gacy."

    WTF are you talking about, TANK? Go sit down somewhere!

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 17, 2009 2:50:18 PM


  17. Derrick, it's true...there have been psychopathic serial killers who enjoyed dicing and slicing people for centuries. They liked eating their flesh while they were still alive, or having sex with their entrails, or ripping parts of their brains out while having a "conversation" with them...

    Homophobic hate crimes aren't that, though. When a gay man is brutally murdered beacuse he's gay, the perps aren't serial killers.

    Let's apply that same standard to lynchings of blacks in the south. There have been, for centuries, people who enjoyed hanging people until they were dead. Black people, even. Perhaps that had a weird sexual twist to it, but we just don't KNOW if lynchings were based on racism or the SICKNESS of psychopathology. Clearly, lynchings were conducted by crazy people, and DID NOT SPEAK to the broader culture of the times at all. Those guys who murdered james byrd weren't necessarily racist, derrick...don't you see...they were insane or racist...but we will NEVER know. But I agree with you completely that racism, homophobia, sexism--these are not social problems, and the harmful toxic messages that are social norms can't POSSIBLY share in any of the blame.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 17, 2009 3:00:20 PM


  18. And here we go with crazypantses like derrick saying things like "puerto rico's no more gay unfriendly than the midwest...like kansas...ya know....and baghdad's a gay paradise, ya know." No, derrick, you don't know.

    What's really said to me, derrick...is that you don't understand what you're saying.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 17, 2009 3:04:21 PM


  19. "When a gay man is brutally murdered beacuse he's gay, the perps aren't serial killers."

    You're right, TANK, I don't know and I don't understand....that you know for sure that it was Jorge's sexual orientation that was the motivation for the killer. Has it been confirmed that Jorge was murdered and butchered because he was gay?

    And, no, your comparison of the acts of sex murderers & serial killers to public lynchings doesn't work.

    There were certainly fiendish perverts in the lynch mobs, but they probably wouldn't want a live audience around when they rape, cum, kill,cum, mutilate, cum, and then cum again.

    Lynch mob participants and gay-bashers are trying to send a message to whole communities of people. What's the sex murderer's or serial killer's message? "notice me?"

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 17, 2009 4:30:40 PM


  20. I don't know for sure if it was james byrd's skin color that motivated his murder, derrick. I'm pretty confident...but I just don't know (using your reasoning). It's an open question...(using your reasoning).

    Of course my comparison works, derrick. If you're going to suggest that there's no connection between homophobia and its prevalence in puerto rican society and culture and this gruesome murder, I will bring up a similar gap between racism in the u.s. and lynchings. After all, they could just be lone psychotics acting on their own beliefs about black people and gays... And no, lynch mob participants and gay bashers are targeting people because of a trait they have, but perhaps it's just to satiate their bigotry--their hatred of that trait for whatever reasons. That it sends a message to the whole community is a bonus!

    YOu're stating that hate crimes have no connection to the society (norms, beliefs, practices) in which they occur, and conversely, that beliefs have no connection to behavior.

    This was not committed by a psychotic serial killer, derrick...flopsweat. That you'd take this line of reasoning exposes how desperate you are. Well, desperate isn't the word...stupid! Like jt.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 17, 2009 4:40:03 PM


  21. "After all, they could just be lone psychotics acting on their own beliefs about black people and gays... "

    OK, TANK, fifty to two thousand lynch mob members that used to gather for the killings in this country were all lone psychopaths...well, it's possible--but there is the history of race in America, isn't there?

    THe killers of James Byrd? Sure, sick sexual pleasure and "machismo" dominance could have been greater factors for them than racial hatred...or do they go hand in hand?

    "YOu're stating that hate crimes have no connection to the society (norms, beliefs, practices) in which they occur, and conversely, that beliefs have no connection to behavior."

    That's a Goddam lie, TANK. I'm asking, who has confirmed that this was an anti-gay hate crime? If the killer says, "Yeah, I hate faggots," then, yes, it's a hate crime--but that still doesn't mean that Puerto Rico is more prone to anti-gay hate crimes than many states in the US. We've already heard from gay folks (earlier commentators) who are familiar with Puerto Rico--they disagree with you, TANK.

    Posted by: Derrick from Philly | Nov 17, 2009 5:02:04 PM


  22. This may not be an antigay crime at all. It could be simply a violent crime between friends, acquaintances, drug fueled, whatever. The body being chopped up simply indicates a need to dispose of it.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Nov 17, 2009 6:15:39 PM


  23. "OK, TANK, fifty to two thousand lynch mob members that used to gather for the killings in this country were all lone psychopaths...well, it's possible--but there is the history of race in America, isn't there?"

    It's possible, derrick. Just like it's possible that this muder had nothing to do with jorge's sexual orientation. Can't fix stupid.

    "THe killers of James Byrd? Sure, sick sexual pleasure and "machismo" dominance could have been greater factors for them than racial hatred...or do they go hand in hand?"

    Fail.

    "That's a Goddam lie, TANK. I'm asking, who has confirmed that this was an anti-gay hate crime? If the killer says, "Yeah, I hate faggots," then, yes,"

    I guess that's the only way to prove it, huh? Idiot. It's not a lie--you think hate crimes have no connection to the society in which they occur. Look at what you've written. It's absurd.

    "it's a hate crime--but that still doesn't mean that Puerto Rico is more prone to anti-gay hate crimes than many states in the US."

    Puerto Rico has never tried someone for an antigay hate crime. If a police officer said what he said in the u.s., he'd be fired. End of story.


    "We've already heard from gay folks (earlier commentators) who are familiar with Puerto Rico--they disagree with you, TANK."

    I couldn't give a flying fuck if they disagree. IT has nothing to do with puerto rico being more or less homophobic than the u.s., anyway. And anyone who cries racism whenever a country, state, group of people, belief system, or protectorate is called on the carpet (puerto rico or the u.s.), is a fucking fool.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 17, 2009 6:30:48 PM


  24. Actually, John in boston, the more violent crime with mutiliation of corpse involving lgbt people makes it dramatically more likely that this is a hate crime.

    Posted by: TANK | Nov 17, 2009 6:31:54 PM


  25. Mutilation of murder victims is pretty common Tank. By mutilation, I mean chopping it up, even decapitation. Bodies are commonly disposed of in such a fashion. Just saying.

    But yeah, it could of course have been a hate crime, with resultant mutilation.

    Who knows.

    Posted by: John in Boston | Nov 17, 2009 7:05:13 PM


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