Just before midnight last Saturday night, police responded to a call from the Crown Motor Inn, in the Queens neighborhood of Elmhurst. Joseph Benzinger, a 54-year-old white male from Middle Village, New York, was on the floor of a hotel room. A shirt was wrapped around his neck. He was dead.
Early today, Lleuyel Garcia, a 23-year-old Hispanic male from Inwood, was arrested and charged with two counts of murder and one count of robbery. According to the New York Daily News, Garcia allegedly took Benzinger’s wallet and cell phone from the scene of the crime.
Benzinger and Garcia were lovers, authorities are saying, and had a sexual relationship prior to the 54-year-old’s death.
Benzinger was the third gay man found strangled to death since January 26. The two previous murders are unsolved. Authorities, however, tell the Voice that the three murders are unrelated.