Remembering the victims: Candlelight vigil set in wake of murders of 2 gay teens in 1 week

Posted on 19 Oct 2009 at 8:33pm
By Tammye Nash | Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Local activists have organized a candlelight vigil to be held Sunday, Nov. 22, at 6:15 p.m., at the intersection of Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street, in front of the former Crossroads Market, in memory of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado of Puerto Rico and Jason Mattison Jr. of Baltimore, two LGBT youth murdered in separate incidents last week.

Those attending the vigil will gather in front of the former Crossroads Market and march in silence to the Legacy of Love Monument at the intersection of Cedar Springs Road and Oak Lawn Avenue where speakers will address the crowd.

Speakers will include Stephen B. Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University, LULAC 4871 (Dallas Rainbow Council) President Jesse Garcia, local activist and author Chastity Kirven, Bob McCranie with the Carrollton Project, and Beau Heyen with Cathedral of Hope UCC and the Dallas chapter of the Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network.

The Rev. Alejandro de La Torre, asistente ministerio Latino at CoH, will deliver the invocation, and local activist Elizabeth Pax will close the event with a song.

Sponsoring organizations are Equality March Texas, GLSEN-Dallas, Join the Impact Dallas, Cathedral of Hope UCC, the Carrollton Project and Resource Center Dallas.

Lopez Mercado, 19, was found Nov. 14 along the side of a road in Cayey, Puerto Rico, just a few miles away from Caguas where he lived. He had been stabbed repeatedly, burned and decapitated, and his arms and legs had been cut off.

Police there have arrested 26-year-old Juan A. Martinez Matos and are investigating whether Mercado’s murder was a hate crime. Reports are that Martinez Matos has confessed to the crime and that a knife believed to have been used in the murder was found in a septic tank at his home. The suspect also reportedly told police he had been looking for a prostitute when he found Lopez Mercado, dressed in women’s clothing, and believed him to be female. He took the victim back to his home and killed him after discovering that Lopez Mercado was male.

Mattison was a 15-year-old gay high school sophomore in Baltimore. His body was found stuffed into a closet at his aunt’s house on Nov. 10. He had been raped, gagged with a pillowcase and stabbed repeatedly about the head and neck. Reports were unclear as to whether he had left his mother’s house and moved in with his aunt, as his grandmother has said, or if he was just visiting the aunt’s house, as other relatives have claimed.

Police have arrested Dante Parrish, 35, a convicted killer, and charged him with first-degree murder in connection with the case. A woman identified as Mattison’s cousin said Parrish was a longtime friend of the family.

Another gay teen, 16-year-old Jayron Martin of Houston, told police there he was chased down and beaten one day last week after school by a gang of attackers as eight classmates watched. Martin has also said he had told his school principal and his bus driver that he had been threatened, but neither did anything to forestall the attack.

Martin was beaten with a metal pipe and sustained a concussion and numerous cuts and bruises on his arms and hands. The attack ended when a neighbor pointed a shotgun at the attackers and cocked the gun.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition November 20, 2009.

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