12 Crimes That Changed the LGBT World

The Advocate has covered the LGBT community for 45 years, and these crimes won’t soon be forgotten.

BY Diane Anderson-Minshall

May 07 2012 2:03 AM ET

THE HAMPTON ROADS KILLER

From 1987 to 1996, 12 gay or bisexual men were strangled to death and dumped in an area of Virginia called Hampton Roads. All but one were found nude. Most had been strangled; the others were too decomposed for the cause of death to be determined. Of the victims, all were last seen at gay bars in Portsmouth or Norfolk. By 1997, the local gay community was up in arms over the lack of police attention to the crimes, but, said Shirley Lesser, executive director of Virginians for Justice, the general public was not.

“It’s not gay-friendly here,” she said. “There is not a public outcry to solve gay murders. Police resources are dependent on where the public wants those resources to go.”

On May 6, 1997, police arrested Jackson Elton Manning for the murder of a gay man named Andrew “Andre” Smith, the most recent of the victims, who had been found strangled by a ligature and dumped in the Hampton Roads area. DNA evidence showed Manning had sex with Smith, and the victim’s blood — along with that of another victim, Reginald Joyner — was also found in Manning’s bed. In 1998, a jury sentenced Manning to life in prison for Smith’s murder, and Chesapeake police chief Richard Justice told reporters that Manning was the killer responsible for all 12 murders. Though Manning was never tried for the other 11 crimes, FBI documents later released to the public showed that the agency firmly believed the 42-year-old man was the Hampton Roads killer as early as 1996 — though his case caused profilers to rethink traditional victimology, as Manning, a black man, had both white and black victims, a rare modus operandi for a serial killer, the majority of whom target one  racial group. After his arrest, there were no more similar crimes in the area.

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