Was Professor Don Belton Murdered Over a Rape? Or Regrets Over a Consensual Relationship?

By Editor Editor · Wednesday, December 30, 2009

As if the Sunday morning murder of Anthony J. Perkins, the gay D.C. man found shot to dead in his car, weren’t enough terrible news this holiday, here’s word that 53-year-old Don Belton, a Indiana University assistant professor and accomplished writer, has been stabbed to death with a 10-inch blade.

Belton’s alleged killer has already confessed to police. He’s Michael J. Griffin, 25, and he was, apparently, Perkins’s new lover. Who also had a girlfriend. And served in the Marines. This has weird Don’t Ask Don’t Tell/sexual confusion/rage written all over it. And as you can tell from the above Fox69 news report, there are already rumblings of a “gay panic” defense.

Michael J. Griffin, 25, of Bloomington told police he visited Don Belton on Sunday to confront the 53-year-old assistant professor of English over two alleged assaults, the probable cause affidavit said.

An argument and scuffle ensued. Griffin told police he stabbed Belton with a 10-inch military-style knife after Belton failed to “show or express any type of feeling that what had taken place was a mistake,” the affidavit said.

Griffin was being held without bond Tuesday in the Monroe County Jail on a charge of murder. An initial court hearing was set for today.

A friend who came to Belton’s home in Bloomington on Monday found his body in the kitchen, authorities said. Police who were called to the scene found both doors unlocked and no signs of forced entry. Nothing was missing, police Lt. David Drake said.

Drake said Belton was stabbed “at least five or six” times in the back and several times in the front of the torso.

The affidavit said police found Belton’s journal, which contained an entry saying that he was “very happy” that someone named Michael had entered his life. Police later received a call from Griffin’s girlfriend saying she thought her boyfriend might be involved in the slaying. Officers who searched Griffin’s home Monday night found the knife believed to have been used in the killing, Drake said.

The affidavit said Griffin had bought the knife before serving as a Marine in Iraq.

Sad, sad stuff.

For now, we have only Griffin’s word to go on, which is that Belton raped him, in front of his girlfriend, and the two were too drunk to defend themselves. Or, another possibility: They had consensual sex, and Belton didn’t feel so great about it afterward. We may never know the truth.