PHOENIX — Three suspects have been arrested in connection with last month’s murder of a Phoenix man whose friends and family allege was targeted because of his sexuality, according to authorities.
The men have been charged with first-degree murder in the Nov. 25 death of 30-year-old Bernardo Pantaleon.
The victim was found dead and naked in a city park, and court records show he was fatally shot, with his body later mutilated with a knife.
Police said the suspects sent photos of Pantaleon’s body to his family members. The men were arrested Saturday and remained jailed Tuesday on bonds ranging from $500,000 to $2 million.
Pantaleon’s friends and family have said they believe he was the victim of a hate crime because he was gay and wore glamorous clothing. Police investigators said the suspects — all in their early 20s — planned to rob Pantaleon and then kill him.
Days after Pantaleon’s death, detectives said social media messages between the three suspects that discuss the murder were reviewed.
“Some made derogatory remarks regarding the victim’s sexuality and a derogatory statement about homosexuals not being allowed” in Phoenix’s northside, according to a probable cause statement.
Police said the suspects were interviewed and all three confessed to the murder. It wasn’t immediately clear Tuesday if any of the men had lawyers yet.
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