LAFAYETTE, La. — A 21-year-old Louisiana man has pleaded guilty to the gruesome kidnapping of a teenager he met through a dating app for gay and bisexual men, and his sworn statement says he planned to kill and dismember homosexuals until he was caught or killed.
Federal prosecutors agreed to drop hate crimes and other charges against Chance Seneca de Lafayette when he pleaded guilty Thursday, according to court documents.
Seneca was 19 when he handcuffed, strangled, stabbed and slit the wrists of 18-year-old Holden White, then called 911 and waited for police outside his father’s house. Court documents only list White’s initials, but his family identified him at the time and appealed the hate crime charge which was later added.
Seneca’s statement says he used Snapchat and the Grindr app, which is primarily used by gay and bisexual men, to arrange a meeting with White, and attempted to murder and dismember him on June 20, 2020 A day earlier, he said, he used the apps to arrange a meeting with another gay man, but decided not to kill him.
“The defendant’s actions and intentions in this case were shocking,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a news release. “The Internet should be accessible and safe for all Americans, regardless of gender or sexual orientation.”
U.S. District Judge Robert Summerhays has scheduled sentencing for Jan. 25, 2023. The maximum sentence is life and a $250,000 fine, but it could be increased if the judge finds Seneca chose the victim because of his actual or perceived sex or sexual orientation, according to the press release.
White survived but his wrists, severed to the bone, “required significant medical attention to rehabilitate the damaged and severed tendons” and his left hand has permanent nerve damage, according to the affidavit.
“It is nothing short of miraculous that the victims who suffered this defendant’s vicious attacks survived,” said U.S. Attorney Brandon B. Brown for the Western District of Louisiana.
Seneca also faces charges of attempted second degree murder and hate crime. State attorneys have been coordinating with their federal counterparts and a similar agreement is expected “very soon” in state court, Assistant District Attorney Don Knecht told The Advocate.
“I don’t want to let the proverbial cat come out of the bag and spoil anything, but it was all discussed working with federal authorities and the victim,” he said.
In addition to the federal hate crime charge, Seneca had been charged in federal court with a second charge of kidnapping and attempted kidnapping, destroying records to obstruct justice, and possession of a machine gun to aid violent crime.