A Louisiana man has been sentenced to 45 years in federal prison for attempting to carry out a Jeffrey Dahmer-style murder as part of a scheme to kidnap and murder gay men.
Chance Seneca, 21, of Lafayette, Louisiana, previously pled guilty in September 2022 to a charge of kidnapping for allegedly using the gay app Grindr to arrange a date with the then-18-year-old victim before restraining and attempting to kill him, with the intent of dismembering the young man’s body.
According to a news release from the U.S. Department of Justice, the court based the length of Seneca’s sentence on the determination that he had intentionally targeted the victim and intended to target other gay men because of their gender and sexual orientation.
“The facts of this case are truly shocking, and the defendant’s decision to specifically target gay men is a disturbing reminder of the unique prejudices and dangers facing the LGBTQ+ community today,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke, of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The internet should be accessible and safe for all Americans, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. We will continue to identify and intercept the predators who weaponize online platforms to target LGBTQ+ victims and carry out acts of violence and hate.”
According to evidence introduced at sentencing and in the September hearing during which Seneca plead guilty, the 21-year-old used Grindr in June 2020 to arrange a meeting with a gay man with the intent of killing him. Seneca drove the victim to an isolated house, took out a handgun, instructed him to put on handcuffs, and attempted to murder him by strangling him, beating him over the head, and stabbing him until he lost consciousness. The victim floated in and out of consciousness throughout the attack.
Believing his victim to be dead, Seneca then attempted to dismember him in a bathtub. But the task proved more difficult than he originally thought, and Seneca gave up, calling 911 and telling police he had just murdered a man, “in a self-described effort to be put into a mental institution,” according to The Associated Press.
According to prosecutors, after his arrest, Seneca told detectives that he had kidnapped and attempted to murder his victim in order to satisfy a compulsive murder fantasy. Seneca had reportedly become fixated with the idea of killing gay men, and plotted to carry out a series of kidnappings and murders that would echo murders committed by the now-deceased serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer, who killed and dismembered 16 men and boys from 1978 to 1991.
Like Dahmer, Seneca planned to target gay men, and had intended to eat parts of his victim’s bodies and preserve other parts as trophies. He told police after his arrest that he had planned to continue murdering gay men until he was caught or killed.
The victim in the attack was placed on a ventilator for several days after suffering six stab wounds to the neck, blunt force trauma to the back of the head, popped blood vessels in his face, and having his wrists cut down to the bone. The injuries to his wrists were so severe that he had to undergo intensive physical therapy for months afterward in order to regain strength in his hands.
Initially, local police refused to classify the attack as a hate crime, based on evidence that the victim and Seneca had been talking back and forth on Grindr prior to meeting up. But because kidnapping is a federal charge, the Department of Justice was able to pursue bias enhancements against Seneca due to his intentional targeting of gay men.
“No one should ever be subjected to the type of horrendous actions that this defendant inflicted upon the victim in this case,” U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown, of the Western District of Louisiana, said in a statement. “The victim never thought that he would find himself falling prey to a predator in such a way.
“Hate crimes such as this are a top priority for the Department and this office, and we take these kind of cases very seriously,” Brown added. “It is important that we all remain vigilant and cautious as we use the internet in our everyday lives to avoid situations that may lead to destructive behavior of others towards us.”
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