Officers have arrested the boyfriend of the man murdered in an Elmhurst motel on Feb. 9.
Lleuyel Garcia, 23, of the most northern Manhattan neighborhood of Inwood, was charged with murder, robbery, criminal possession of stolen property and tampering with physical evidence.
The victim, Joseph Bezinger, 54, a sanitation worker from Middle Village, was the most recent homicide of three openly gay men during the last two weeks. There has been speculation that the suspects had met their victims online, but police had no evidence the crimes were linked, though they were all strangled, openly gay, middle aged and there had been no forced entry into their rooms or apartments.
Councilman Danny Dromm (D-Jackson Heights) called the crimes an "eerie coincidence," at a press conference outside where Bezinger was murdered at the Crown Motor Inn last Tuesday.
Dromm, along with the Anti-violence Project, told community members to be cautious when dating online and urged them to meet individuals for the first time in public spaces.
Sources continue to say the incidents are unrelated and that the acts do not seem to be hate crimes.
"Despite the arrest, it is vitally important that we continue to remain vigilant," Dromm said. "The other murders committed against gay men remain unsolved but I am hopeful that the NYPD will capture the perpetrators. Again, I want to urge everyone that it is always important to practice safety whether meeting people online or in person."
On Feb. 3, public school teacher David Rangel, 53, was found strangled under his couch in Jackson Heights.
A few days before, on Jan. 28, Charles Romo, 48, of Hamilton Heights, a neighborhood in northwest Manhattan, was found dead in his apartment with a bag over his head.
Individuals can report information to NYPD’s Crime Stoppers hotline at 1 (800) 577-TIPS (8477).