4 openly gay men murdered in possibly-linked series of attacks

Posted at 9:59 AM, Feb 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-02-12 10:42:11-05

NEW YORK (PIX11) – There is terror spreading across the gay community Tuesday after four openly gay men were murdered in a series of attacks that may be connected.

According to authorities, two of the men were killed within a week of each other in Queens, the most recent found unconscious Saturday night in a room in the Crown Hotel on Queens Boulevard just after 11:30 pm.

Cops say 54-year-old Joseph Benzinger of Middle Village was found laying on the floor of a room at hotel when they responded to a 911 call. Investigators say he had been strangled to death.

Benzinger’s murder comes just one week after another openly gay man  53-year-old David Rangel was murdered on 91st street.

gay killings

On Tuesday, gay activists and city council member Daniel Dromm will urge members of the gay community to use caution when using online dating services and meeting people for the first time.

The NYPD has not linked the cases but they are also investigating at least 2 other murders of gay men in recent months.  Cops are looking for 2 men who attacked 62-year-old gay activist Lou Rispolli in Sunnyside Queens. Witnesses say he was walking down 43rd avenue when 2 men approached and hit him in the head with a blunt object. He later died.

Cops are also investigating the murder of yet another openly gay man who was found dead in the bedroom of his apartment at 87 Hamilton Place in Hamilton Heights. Cops say Charles Romo’s hands were tied and a plastic bag was over his bloodied head.