A Louisiana man has admitted kidnapping a gay teenager he met on the LGBTQ dating app Grindr with the intention of murdering him and dismembering his body.
As part of a plea deal, Chance Seneca, 21, pleaded guilty to one count of kidnapping related to the June 2020 incident, the Justice Department announced Thursday. Seneca also admitted that he had intended to kill his victim, Holden White, who was then 18, “in order to satisfy his murderous urges”. He added that he planned to continue murdering other people until he was caught or killed himself.
Although White survived, the grisly assault left him in a coma for three days. During the same week after White’s assault, Seneca attempted to kidnap another man and successfully kidnapped another, according to a separate FBI statement.
“The facts surrounding the events that took place in this case are very disturbing,” said Brandon B. Brown, U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Louisiana. “It is nothing short of miraculous that the victims who endured this defendant’s vicious attacks have survived. We will continue to fight for justice for the victims who suffer at the hands of defendants like this.”
White and Seneca met on Grindr in 2020 when they were both teenagers, White told The Acadiana Advocate last year. After talking for about a month, the two decided to meet in person at the end of June 2020.
White told the local outlet that after turning down Seneca’s invitation to his new apartment, he was persuaded to have their first in-person meeting at Seneca’s father’s house. After an initial small talk at home, White said Seneca pulled him back with a rope and choked him so badly that “every blood vessel in my face burst” before passing out, a he declared.
“I remember thinking, ‘Well, this is it,’” he told The Acadiana Advocate. “The last words I said to myself were just ‘keep calm.’ Over and over and over in my head, I was just telling myself to keep calm.
Seneca then called 911 and told the dispatcher he had killed a man “in a self-proclaimed effort to be placed in a mental institution,” according to an affidavit released last year. He was later arrested at the scene and charged with attempted second degree murder.
Federal prosecutors said Thursday that the legal maximum for Seneca’s kidnapping offense is life imprisonment. They added that Seneca faces additional criminal exposure if the sentencing court determines he intentionally chose White because he is gay.
“The defendant’s actions and intentions in this case were shocking,” Kristen Clarke, assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement. “The Internet should be accessible and safe for all Americans, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. The Department of Justice will continue to identify and hold accountable anyone who uses online spaces as a means to terrorize or abuse others.
Grindr, which was founded in 2009, has come under fire for security and privacy issues in recent years. The Louisiana case is one of many cases in which Grindr was allegedly used to target LGBTQ men around the world.
In one of the best-known cases, Stephen Port – the man nicknamed ‘The Grindr Killer’ – was sentenced to life in prison in 2016 for drugging, raping and killing four men he met through the application. In 2018, Egyptian authorities and residents reportedly widely used Grindr and other dating apps to entrap and persecute gay people. And last year, a Texas man was sentenced to 23 years in federal prison for using the LGBTQ dating app to commit a series of robberies, carjackings and other crimes in the Dallas area in December 2017.
In its safety guidelines, Grindr advises users: “If you choose to meet, we recommend that you do so first in public, in a safe space such as an LGBTQ+ friendly cafe, and be careful of the belongings you take with you. with you…make sure a responsible person you trust knows who you’re meeting, where you’re going and when you plan to return.”
Grindr did not immediately respond to NBC News’ request for comment regarding Seneca’s guilty plea.
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The Associated Press contributed.