Victim may have met killer on Net

By Advocate.com Editors

Originally published on Advocate.com December 06 2002 12:00 AM ET

The murder of a gay man whose body was found in an Ottawa, Canada, apartment Wednesday could be linked to a recent hookup he'd made through a Gay.com chat room, friends of the victim say. Friends say Chris Raynsford, 35, told them he'd been threatened and robbed by a stranger he'd met on the Internet and invited to his home last month, The Ottawa Citizen reports. Raynsford was last seen November 21. Police confirmed that he had been dead for some time before his body was discovered.

"It is a gay bashing incident, certainly," said Michael Fortier, a friend Raynsford talked to following the Internet date that ended with Raynsford's being beaten and some of his CDs, videos, and other items being stolen. "He was very scared, and he hoped it would never happen again."

Raynsford, who worked as a server in a local restaurant, also was an actor in Ottawa theater and had recently participated in a production of The Laramie Project, about the murder of Matthew Shepard. The subject matter apparently touched him close to home. Earlier this year Raynsford left a message on a Web site dedicated to Shepard: "To all who have taken the time to sign and read this guestbook, thank you! To know there are people in this world who still care for someone that [they have] not even met is inspiring. We are doing the play The Laramie Project in May here in Ottawa, and I for one will be honoured in telling this story to the family and friends. My heart goes out to you, and it must be a comfort to know that people still care. God bless."