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Story to Watch: The Murder of Waterloo, Iowa Teenager Marcellus Andrews

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Prior to his attack last Friday, 19-year-old Marcellus Richard Andrews was preparing for his freshman year at Hawkeye Community College. He was planning to study interior design.

GLAAD asks our constituents - particularly those in Iowa - to keep a close eye on the media coverage of the murder of 19-year-old Marcellus Richard Andrews of Waterloo, Iowa.  Andrews was beaten in the early morning hours of Friday, August 19.  He died on Sunday, August 21, after being taken off of life support.  Autopsy results reveal that Andrews died from blunt force trauma to his head.

Some witnesses told reporters that Andrews' attackers uttered anti-gay slurs as they beat him.  According to police, eyewitnesses did not mention these slurs to them.  While an investigation remains underway, police have said that Andrews' murder is not currently being investigated as a hate crime.  No arrests have been made.

Police have also acknowledged an alleged dispute between Andrews and his attackers.  Allegedly this was ongoing for at least one year up to the time of Andrews' murder.

Some things to keep in mind as you observe media coverage:

-Why do police say that eyewitnesses mentioned nothing about anti-gay slurs being uttered by Andrews' attackers? This does not line-up with what eyewitnesses have shared with local reporters.  Though it's certainly possible eyewitnesses omitted details about the anti-gay slurs in conversations with investigators, it's important to question why they might have done so.  We must recognize that not everyone in the LGBT and allied community feels comfortable sharing such information with local law enforcement.  That said the omission of anti-gay slurs might have been with one's own personal safety in mind.

-Why is Andrews' murder not being investigated as a hate crime? Given that eyewitnesses have told reporters that Andrews' attackers uttered derogatory remarks about his sexual orientation as they beat him, it seems entirely too soon to rule out that his murder might have been motivated by hate.  An alleged ongoing dispute between Andrews and his attackers does not preclude Andrews' murder from being motivated by hate.

As of this blog's publishing, neither GLAAD nor our community partners have confirmed Andrews' sexual orientation.  It's entirely possible that Andrews' attackers made comments based on what they perceived to be Andrews' sexual orientation.

Vigils in memory of Marcellus Richard Andrews are planned for Thursday, and a funeral service will take place on Saturday.  These events along with the murder investigation still underway are sure to keep this tragic and unfortunate story in the news for days to come.  GLAAD will continue to closely monitor media coverage and update our constituents on pertinent new information as it becomes available.  If you should encounter problematic reporting, we strongly encourage you to submit an incident report to GLAAD as soon as possible.