A man is being charged with strangling his gay lover in a New York City motel, police revealed today (14 February).
Lleuyel Garcia, 23, is alleged to have killed and robbed the victim Joseph Benzinger, 54, who was found with a shirt wrapped around his neck on Saturday night (9 February).
Cops believe Benzinger and Garcia had met earlier that day and had a sexual relationship, the New York Daily News reports.
A police source said Garcia stole the victim’s wallet and cell phone and that detectives used the call records to track the suspect down.
The suspect implicated himself in the crime by admitting he was at the motel, a source said.
Benzinger is the third gay man strangled in recent weeks in New York City, with David Rangel, 54, discovered dead in his Jackson Heights apartment on 26 January and Charles Romo, 48, found tied up with a bag over his head two days later.
Both killings remain unsolved, with police saying there is no reason to believe Garcia is also connected to the other two deaths.
City Councilman David Dromm, who is openly gay, recently urged the LGBT community to exercise extreme caution when using online dating sites.
Anyone with information on the murders can call the NYPD Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS.