A Louisiana man, Chance Seneca, 21, was sentenced to 45 years in federal prison on Wednesday for kidnapping and attempting to murder a gay teen as part of a broader hate crime scheme targeting men on an LGBTQ dating app. Seneca pleaded guilty in September, admitting to kidnapping the teen whom he met on Grindr with the intention of killing him and dismembering his body.
The Justice Department revealed that the decadeslong sentencing rested on a variety of factors, including that Seneca intentionally targeted the teen and other gay men because of their sexual orientation. The Justice Department said Seneca spent months “designing a murder-kidnapping scheme that mirrored the murders of gay men committed by the notorious serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer.” It added that, as with Dahmer, Seneca intended to eat and preserve the body parts of his victims.
“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,” Kristen Clarke, an assistant attorney general for the department’s civil rights division, said in a statement. “The internet should be accessible and safe for all Americans, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation.”
Last year, Seneca admitted that in June 2020 he intended to kill the victim, Holden White, who was then 18, “for the purpose of satisfying his homicidal urges,” according to a previous Justice Department statement. White survived the grisly assault, but was left in a coma for three days. After his arrest, Seneca also acknowledged that he intended to kill other gay men until he was either caught or killed himself.
The Louisiana case is one of several where people have used Grindr, a dating app founded in 2009 that is predominantly used by gay men, to target LGBTQ people around the world.
“We concur with Assistant AG Clarke that the internet should be accessible and safe for all people regardless of their gender or sexual orientation,” Patrick Lenihan, the vice president and global head of communications at Grindr, said in a statement. “Grindr will continue to work toward the realization of a safer, better world for the LGBTQ community.”
Brandon B. Brown, U.S. attorney for the Western District of Louisiana, said in Wednesday’s statement that hate crimes “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,” Brown urged.