Gay Community Alarmed at Unrelated Killings of Homosexuals
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) _ Police and gay community leaders are urging homosexuals to avoid after- hours encounters with strangers following the slayings of eight homosexual men in the past 14 months.
″I think gays are subjected to a good deal of violence in this society and it almost always involves a stranger-to-stranger murder, which sends the whole community into fear,″ said Police Chief Tony Bouza.
Most of the dead men were found in their apartments, although one who frequently dressed in women’s clothing was found on a bridge. In two cases credit cards and videocassette recorders were taken, and in two other cases the victims were found stabbed to death in a burning apartment.
In one recent unsolved case, Dale E. Staupe, 28, was found dead in his apartment on Nov. 13, 1986. Staupe was from Eau Claire, Wis., about 80 miles from Minneapolis. His body was nude, hands and feet bound, a garrote around his neck, and his car was found in a parking lot in Superior, Wis.
Although suspects have been arrested and charged in three of the killings and police do not believe the other five are linked, men in the gay community still refer to ″the murderer,″ according to Tim Campbell, editor of the GLC Voice, a Twin Cities gay newspaper.
″I think there’s a real common perception that there’s got to be a link between the (unsolved) murders,″ Campbell said.
However, even if the killer is not the same, Campbell noted there were similaries that gays should be aware of.
Campbell described the victims as high risk takers who frequented gay bars but often went on to bookstores and continued hanging around Hennepin Avenue after bars close, picking up strangers and taking them home.
″The moral of the story is, you’re safer to go to the gay bars and go straight home than to continue cruising after the stroke of one. If you leave with someone, others know who you left with,″ Campbell said.
Jimmy Tiggas, owner of Cloud 9 Express, a downtown Minneapolis bar frequented by homosexuals, says there has been a noticeable change in behavior among his gay customers in the wake of the killings.
″It’s similar to the outbreak of AIDS where people have a sense of fear. They have toned down their going home with strangers. It’s unfortunate that a murder has to happen for them to do that,″ said Tiggas, who has been active in a citizens task force organized in October to educate the gay community about crime prevention.
At Cloud 9, which Tiggas has owned for two years, bar employees try to keep a close watch on customers.
″We take pride in being more cautious with our patrons. We ask them if they know that person. We take a great sense of pride in knowing our customers here and trying to keep them alive,″ Tiggas said. ″There’s no one to watch them in after hours places - a bookstore, Loring Park.″
Tiggas said he feels the police are doing a good job in investigating the killings.
″Every time there’s a murder, a beating, the police department’s around, the detectives are around. They are asking my staff and myself if we’ve seen people,″ he said.
Tiggas said he doesn’t believe members of the gay community are convinced a serial killer is responsible for the slayings.
″I think they really don’t know,″ he said. ″I think they would like to think it’s one person, because if one person is doing it, then all of Minneapolis isn’t out looking for them. The less the better.″
″There are no links that we can come up with for sure,″ said Capt. Jack McCarthy, head of the homicide-robbery division of the Minneapolis Police Department. ″The issue of a serial killer was raised by the gay community. Any time that community suspects a serial killer out there, that raises a real concern and we respond.″
Bouza, meanwhile, said the apparent increase in homosexual killings is not just occurring in Minneapolis.
″We’re talking about a national trend. I think the victimization of gays is probably up around the country. I see that as a result of more gays coming out and leading their lives more openly and engaging in more dangerous contact with strangers,″ Bouza said.
″If you bring a stranger home, whether you are homosexual or heterosexual, you’re asking for trouble,″ he said.