At six forty-five in the morning, someone lured 20-year-old lesbian Norma Leticia Martinez out of her San Jose, Calif., home before dragging her body two blocks by car and leaving her for dead. Martinez’s neighbor found scraps of Martinez’s clothing and jewelry along Michigan Avenue before discovering her body in front of the local Catholic church. The police took Martinez to the hospital without notifying her family. She died alone at 10am. Martinez had just gotten a new job and a new girlfriend before her death early this morning. Police now say that she also had a fight with her 19-year-old ex, a one Jennifer Bautista, a few hours before her death. They want to talk with Bautista to see if she knows anything about Martinez’s death. And though police have called the death “suspicious,” they’ve stopped short of calling it a homicide and say there’s not enough evidence to call it “a hate crime,” which is where our mind always jumps when “gay” and “murder” show up in a headline. And should we go down that road? California does have statewide hate crime laws that increase penalties for offenders. But for now, yeah, let’s wait to see what Bautista has to say.
UPDATE: Martinez’s ex Bautista was arrested and charged with the murder after initially being fingered as a “person of interest.” After eight hours of questioning by police, she was formally arrested. Martinez’s family suspect a set-up: “One theory is that Leticia was beaten outside her home and then taken two blocks, where she was left outside a church,” reports Edge. “Another possibility is that she was hanging on to a car that dragged her for those two blocks. Family members speculated that Leticia was drawn out of her home by an early morning phone call and then attacked. At one point they thought that Leticia might have been targeted because of her sexuality; sister Nena Estrada told the news channel that the brothers of Jennifer Bautista, Leticia’s on-and-off girlfriend, ‘didn’t like my sister because they said my sister turned their sister gay.'” Moreover, police now say the murder was not a hate crime.