Thursday, July 19, 2012

Mérida records another gay homicide, the fifth seventh in 10 12 months

*Updates below*
Mérida, Yucatán --
In this sprawling capital of one million people, sometimes called the City of Peace, many come to find refuge from the drug violence ravaging much of Mexico. People sleep easily at night, comforted by the fact that there have been no reported narco executions here for almost four years, since a dozen decapitated bodies were discovered in the summer of 2008 (U.S. focused on Yucatán security in 2008-2009, diplomatic cables reveal).

Even ordinary homicides are very unusual events in Mérida, which has a murder rate well below that of many American and Candian cities. More people die of Dengue fever in Yucatán state than at the hands of an assailant. There are of course deaths caused by drunk driving, and people who rely upon bicycles for transportation and commerce are far too frequently run down by vehicles, but deliberate, premeditated homicide is rather rare.

But for the fifth reported time since September 2011, a gay relationship has erupted in violence and led to murder. Three of those cases (links below) involved male prostitutes who became enraged and killed clients who had summoned them for sexual services. In each instance the victim was a local Mexican man.

In a fourth high profile case less than two months ago, U.S. citizen Robert Lee Wickard was murdered in his rented downtown home by his gay lover and one or more other men who were living with the couple. Wickard was stabbed to death during a sudden quarrel and was buried in an interior garden of the home, where his assailants continued to live for more than two weeks while they sold or pawned off his furnishings and property. Four men were arrested in the case. Charges were dismissed against two of them on July 3 for lack of evidence, but the other two remain in custody and have been ordered to stand trial for robbery and homicide. Police are searching for the fifth suspect, Wickard's lover.

In the latest case state prosecutors have detained a 40 year old gay hair stylist, Ismael Enrique Guerrero Romero, who admitted to murdering his 33 year old partner, formerly of Veracruz. The crime was committed in the city's Francisco I. Madero neighborhood last weekend. Police say the victim was strangled while sitting in a tub of water to cool off.

Guerrero Romero told authorities during his initial declaration before the Public Ministry that he and the victim had lived together for about six months, but fought constantly over the latter's endless sexual infidelities. That was the motive for the murder, prosecutors allege. The court ordered Romero held without bond for 30 days while the case is investigated and prepared for further proceedings.

Aug. 4 - After preliminary proceedings the defendant, apparently a well-known local hairstylist who does business under the name "Shantal," has been ordered to stand trial. His victim is described as a 33 year old unemployed bisexual. What triggered Shantal's rage was the victim's announcement that he was going to terminate their relationship, so that he could begin dating a former girlfriend. The planned replacement of one lover with another led to sudden violence, ending in strangulation.

Statistical note: In 2011 the Yucatán state government reported that the state's homicide rate was an incredibly low 1.7 per 100,000 residents. Rounded upward, that means that in a city of a million people, which Mérida is, one might expect 20 murder victims annually. Excluding drunk driving and vehicular negligence cases, I don't believe there were 20 criminal homicides in this city in all of last year. A couple of taxi drivers were murdered (one a robbery victim), and a deranged former policeman shot his family and then committed suicide, but little else comes to mind. Viewed against a handful of cases, these five murders take on greater significance.

Sept. 30 - Another gay murder in Mérida, with strong similarities to last May's Robert Wickard case. The accused is a 22 year old architecture student, the victim was his 43 year old "occasional lover." The decedent picked up the accused in Mérida's main plaza (where local gay transactions frequently begin), and solicited sex in exchange for pesos. After consuming 17 cans of beer along with their love making, the student stabbed the older man repeatedly in the heart and lungs, dug a shallow grave in an interior garden of a house (it belonged to neither of them - just a love shack to which the trick had keys), laced and lit the bloody corpse with gasoline and tossed it in. The putrid odor of the decaying remains led to the discovery of the victim, very much like in the Wickard case. The defendant is in the initial 30 day detention, courtesy of Juzgado Penal Quinto. In the patented way of the Latin press, a local news account of the case today quaintly refers to both men as "given over to odd customs."

Nov. 12 - Make that nine gay related murders in Mérida in 2012, with two U.S. nationals (aged 63 and 67) among the victims (both were stabbed to death). The perpetrators who have have been arrested so far are all much younger Mexican males.

Robert Lee Wickard case
Suspects in murder of Mérida American expat indicted and ordered to stand trial
Robert Wickard suspects held for 30 days
Four suspects in murder of U.S. citizen set to be arraigned
Gay readers share candid thoughts on gay sex tourism in Mérida
Opinion: A revolting way to die – and to live
American citizen murdered in Mérida died at hands of gay sex partners
U.S. citizen found murdered in Mérida

Gay homicide in Mérida
Mérida posts 3rd gay prostitution murder
Man arrested in Mérida homicide was sex servant for hire, police say
Local murder victim identified
Yucatán: Desarraigan a homicidas de homosexuales
Confirman homicidio en predio del fraccionamiento Montejo

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