Puerto Rican authorities arrest suspect in connection with gay man’s gruesome murder

by Michael K. Lavers

National News Editor

Tuesday November 17, 2009

Puerto Rican police arrested a suspect earlier today in connection with a gay man's gruesome murder.

Authorities took Juan Jose Martinez Torres, 26, into custody in connection with Jorge Steven Lpez's murder. Pedro Julio Serrano of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force identified the suspect to EDGE as Juan Jose Martinez Torres. El Vocero and other Puerto Rican media outlets continue to report the suspect reportedly offered Lpez money for sex.

Lpez was found decapitated, dismembered and partially burned in a wooded area near Cayey on Nov. 13.

Serrano welcomed the arrest.

"Even when everyone is innocent until proven guilty, it is hopeful that they have arrested a suspect," he told EDGE in a statement. "We're grateful for the Police work that has acted promptly and we trust that the investigation digs into the hate crime angle and if it is proven that it was indeed bias-related, that the criminal is processed to the full extent of the law."

Lpez's murder has sent shockwaves across Puerto Rico and among Puerto Ricans in New York and other cities. The Federal Bureau of Investigation has said it plans to prosecute Lpez's murder as a hate crime if investigators conclude the suspect killed the 19-year-old because of his sexual orientation.

Vocero further reported Torres confessed to the crime once authorities took him into custody.

Local activists plan to protest outside the territorial capital in San Juan on Thursday. And they also plan to hold a vigil later this week on the island and over the weekend in New York.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.