Police have arrested a man they say used Grindr to set up a robbery and eventual murder in Houston.
Benjamin Davis, 29, was arrested Saturday and charged with the capital murder of Victor Najera Betanzos, according to local TV station KPRC. Harris County sheriff's officers say Davis admitted to meeting Betanzos ostensibly for sex but actually with the purpose of robbing him before strangling him to death with a scarf. Authorities say Davis downloaded the popular dating and hookup app after hearing it was useful in locating potential robbery victims.
“He learned from other individuals, people we don’t know, that it’s pretty easy to get into people’s homes on this app and rob them,” Assistant Harris County District Attorney Chandler Raine said.
Davis began chatting with Bentanzos on Grindr and eventually arranged to meet at the victim’s residence in Houston, according to sheriff's deputies, who also say Davis admitted to striking and knocking Bentanzos unconscious after entering the apartment and then using the scarf to strangle him to death. They say Davis told investigators he tried to destroy evidence by pouring bleach on the victim’s body before stealing his iPhone, iPad, and truck. Deputies arrested Davis after finding him driving the victim’s truck.
While a highly popular dating and hookup tool, Grindr has also made it easier for those with ill intent to commit crimes. Last year in Louisiana, Holden White, then 18, had his wrists and throat cut in a violent attack. Chance Seneca, 19, who White had met on Grindr, is charged with attempted murder in the case; he is accused of beating and slashing White, then calling 911 and telling the operator he had murdered a man and would be waiting for the arrival of police. White survived the attack and has pressed for hate-crime charges against Seneca, which have now been added. Seneca has pleaded not guilty. In 2019, Demetris Nelson of Detroit was arrested and charged with killing one man and wounding another he met on Grindr. Also in Michigan, Mark Latunski was charged with the murder of Kevin Bacon after the pair arranged to meet via Grindr in late 2019.
Raine noted the danger of dating and hookup apps like Grindr, as they open the possibility of giving predators access to a person’s home. He cautioned users to employ good judgment when arranging a date or hookup.
“Really look at people before you allow them to come into your home,” Raine warned.
Davis remains in jail on a $500,000 bond. He had already served two years in prison for choking a family member in 2018.