Two Gay Elders Killed in Indiana: Hate Crime?

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday October 22, 2008

Two Indiana men in their 70s were targeted for death because they were gay, speculate people who knew them.

70-year-old Milton Lindgren and 73-year-old Eric Hendricks had been harassed prior to their deaths, the Indianapolis Star reported, with their phone and cable lines having been cut and a note containing an anti-gay epithet having been left on their door.

Hendricks, who was in poor health, was in a wheelchair.

The Indianapolis Star reported that the men's bloodied bodies were discovered in their Decatur Township home by friends who were concerned about not having heard from them in more than a week.

However, the Indianapolis Star has not noted that the two men were gay, according to those who knew them, and has not provided other details in the case, such as the fact that the note contained the word "faggots," or that friends of the slain men regard their killings as an anti-gay hate crime.

The GLBT equality organization Advance Indiana posted a story on the killings at their Web site stating that the victims were both gay, and citing a WRTV report that mentions the reported sexuality of the victims.

A friend of the murdered men, Patrick Beard, also reportedly told 6News, "I firmly believe it was definitely a hate crime."

Added Beard, "Milt was 70 and his partner was 73 and to go into someone's home and do something like that, it's just too coincidental."

Added Beard's son, Lee, "I'm not a genius, but if someone's being harassed like that and 'faggot' gets stamped on their door on a piece of paper, it's not that hard to connect the dots two months later that these two people are brutally killed in their home [as part of an ongoing anti-gay pattern of criminal conduct]."

Advance Indiana reported that police viewed the cut cables and the note as having been hate crimes, but have not as yet identified the murders as such.

Even if police do investigate the murders as an anti-gay bias crime, the state of Indiana does not provide protection to GLBT victims targeted due to sexual orientation or gender identity and gender expression.

Advance Indiana said that the local GLBT community knew the men, and word of their murders spread quickly.

Posted one commentator on a list server, "Many of us knew Milton.

"He was active in a number of GLBT organizations and a very nice man."

Advance Indiana noted that attempts to add hate crime protection for the GLBT community to state law has been opposed by religious conservatives and also by the Indianapolis Star, which Advance Indiana reported had published op-ed pieces against such protections.

The article at the Advance Indiana site also recalled the 2007 murder of Aaron Hall, who was beaten over the course of hours until he died by two men who later employed the "gay panic" defense and were allowed to plead on a lesser charge.

Advance Indiana's Web site says that the group is "Dedicated to the advancement of the State of Indiana by re-affirming our state's constitutional principles that: all people are created equal; no religious test shall be imposed on our public officials and offices of trust; and no special privileges or immunities shall be granted to any class of citizens which are not granted on the same terms to all citizens."

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.