Chance Seneca, 21, of Lafayette, Louisiana, was sentenced today to 45 years in federal prison for kidnapping and attempting to murder a gay man as part of a months-long scheme to kidnap and murder gay men.
The court rested its sentence on many factors, including its determination that the defendant intentionally targeted the victim and 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,” said Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “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 an earlier hearing where the defendant pleaded guilty, Seneca in June 2020 used Grindr, a dating application for gay and bisexual men, to kidnap and attempt to murder H.W., a gay man. Specifically, Seneca used Grindr to propose a meeting with H.W., with the intent of murdering and dismembering him, and then drove H.W. to an isolated house, took out a handgun, instructed him to put on handcuffs, and then used several methods to attempt to murder him. Believing that H.W. was dead, Seneca then attempted to dismember him. After his arrest, Seneca admitted that he had planned to continue murdering gay men until he was caught or killed.
Seneca acknowledged that he kidnapped and attempted to murder H.W. in order to satisfy a compulsive murder-fantasy. Seneca had become fixated with the idea of killing gay men, and this fascination led him to spend months designing a murder-kidnapping scheme that mirrored the murders of gay men committed by the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Seneca intentionally targeted gay men, as Dahmer had done. Seneca had also intended to eat and preserve the bodies of his victims, as Dahmer had done.
“No one should ever be subjected to the type of horrendous actions that this defendant inflicted upon the victim in this case,” said U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown for the Western District of Louisiana. “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. 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.”
“The preservation of civil rights and the investigation of Color of Law violations are of utmost priority for the FBI,” said Special Agent in Charge Douglas A. Williams Jr. of the FBI New Orleans Field Office.” "Today's sentencing sends a clear message that individuals like Chance Seneca will be held accountable. We thank our partners at the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Louisiana, Department of Justice Civil Rights Division and Lafayette Police Department for their strong partnership and dedication to protecting the civil rights of every citizen.”
The FBI and the Lafayette Police Department conducted the investigation.
Deputy Criminal Chief Myers Namie for the Western District of Louisiana and Trial Attorney Thomas Johnson of the Civil Rights Division’s Criminal Section are prosecuting the case.