The car wash on NW 39 Street where Steven Domer was last seen alive was empty and strewn with trash recently. The street hustlers who sometimes frequent it were noticeably absent. Domer, 62, was last seen Oct. 26 at the car wash. His body was found a little more than a week later, dumped in a ravine in McClain County. Affidavits point to the self-proclaimed general of a white supremacist group, Darrell Madden, and an accomplice as being the primary suspects in the case. However, police have not publicly named Madden. Nor have they disclosed whether they think Domer, who friends said was gay, was targeted because of his sexuality. In the close network of the gay community, many say Domer's death was clearly a hate crime.Comments
"I think about it every night. How can I not think about it?”
Jimmy Hill, one of about a half dozen private security guards who patrol the city's gay district, said about Steven Domer's disappearance
‘Motivated by hate'"This guy was motivated by hate — pure and simply,” said Oliver Pratt, a doorman at Angles, a dance club near the car wash. "The fact is it's a hate crime, and it should be classified as a hate crime. It's just like if he was murdered for his race or his religion.” At Tramps, another bar in the district, several customers knew Domer. They said he would only come in occasionally, have a few drinks and leave. One man, Jimmy Hill, made it his business to know most of the bar's regulars by name. Hill, 45, has worked security at Tramps for about nine years. He is one of about a half dozen private security guards who patrol the city's gay district to ensure patrons are not verbally or physically assaulted. "I think about it every night. How can I not think about it?” Hill said of Domer's disappearance. Hill vividly remembers the night Domer went missing. It was the Friday before Halloween, and it was hectic. Underaged kids were trying to slip in during the excitement. There were so many people, elaborate costumes and confusion. It still haunts him. "It happened right over there at the car wash. I don't know why in the hell I didn't see anything happen,” Hill said. "I just wish I would have saw something.” In June, Hill had to deal with skinheads during the gay pride parade. Over the last few years, he has had to call the police numerous times over people he referred to as homophobes and religious fanatics yelling disparaging remarks. "They think it's their job to come out here and try to convert the gays. But they were taking their job too seriously,” Hill said. A.J. Ray, 26, said bars are among the few places gay people can feel at home with themselves. "I can be me anywhere. But this is the only place where I can be me, with my partner,” Ray said. "This is not going to change the way I live. I'm not going to stay at home and be scared.” Ray and his partner have been together for years and are having a house built in the suburbs. But he said NW 39 is the only place they feel comfortable enough to walk down the street holding hands.
Hate crimes increasingHate crimes were up about 8 percent nationwide in 2006. Sexual orientation accounts for about 16 percent of those crimes, but many gay community advocates said that number is likely much larger. Law enforcement might fail to designate something as a hate crime because those investigations are usually taken over by the FBI. And with hate crimes, prosecutors have to prove intent during trial. The reporting of hate crimes is a "voluntary process, and many municipalities simply do not report,” said Brad Luna, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, the largest gay civil rights group in the nation. Another factor in the under-reporting of hate crimes based on sexual orientation is fear. Victims scared of being "outed” often fail to report. "The FBI has just in the last five or 10 years started to report it. Those reports are not comprehensive,” Luna said. "What we have known for decades is there are certain people within our society that target victims based upon their sexual orientation. They are not doing it just as an attack against the victim, but to terrorize a whole segment of our community.” It's been nearly a decade since the brutal beating death of Matthew Shepherd, and still policy regarding hate crimes based on sexual orientation is ambiguous at best, he said. Matthew Shepherd was a college student in Laramie, Wyo., whose murder in October 1998 became one of the most infamous examples of a hate crime in recent history. Aaron McKinney and Russell Henderson met Shepherd at a gay bar in Laramie. They drove Shepherd to an open field, tied him to a fence, then beat him. Shepherd died some days later in a Fort Collins, Colo., hospital. "I certainly hope that it is not the case that people in this country are not still shocked to hear about these crimes,” Luna said. "We may have our different views, but I think everyone would agree no one deserves to get beaten up and killed.” For Luna, there is a clear connection between the environment and the crime — in places where people are prone to be in the closet, there is a higher risk of violence. "It's extremely troubling and unfortunate that in this day and age there are still environments where people still feel that kind of hostility, where they can't be honest about who they are,” Luna said. If Domer was in the closet because of fear, it makes his fate even more heart-wrenching. "It shows us he had ample reason for that fear,” Luna said. Mort Domer, the brother of the victim, refused to discuss sexual orientation. "He was very, very private,” Mort Domer said. "I didn't even know any of his friends.” Mort Domer said the bottom line is his brother is dead, and that his family has spread his ashes according to his wishes.
Tape and wires discoveredAccording to an affidavit filed by an Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation agent, police searched the home of Darrell Madden for evidence in Domer's death. They recovered burned wires and duct tape from the home. Domer was bound with duct tape and strangled with a wire hanger, the agent said. Madden has not been publicly identified as a suspect in the case. The crime has not been classified as a hate crime. Oklahoma City police turned over their case to the district attorney's office last week but no charges have been filed. "We have a suspect in the case, but we have not identified who that suspect is,” said Oklahoma City Police Department spokesman Gary Knight. Madden's public MySpace page was deleted Monday evening. It contained numerous photos of him and swastika-tattooed young white men with bald heads, and he referred to them as his Aryan brothers. Madden boasted on the site about killing a woman, assaulting people and burning things. In a blog posted two days after Domer's disappearance, Madden wrote that he "cannot repeat any of the things we did” in the past few days and "it might well be the juice in the needle that kills me. Know what I said?” In the OSBI agent's affidavit, a witness describes the two men Domer was seen with as Madden and Bradley Qualls. Madden is being held in Carter County on a first-degree murder charge, accused of gunning down Qualls, a fellow skinhead gang member and the likely accomplice in the Domer case. "The bottom line is we don't know why they killed him. Until we know the motive, it would be premature to sit around and talk about it,” Knight said. Domer's body was found in a ravine within three miles of his car. His car was found one day after his disappearance. It had been burned. Police said they are not investigating any case in Oklahoma City similar to the killing of the young woman Madden wrote about on his Web page.