Friday, May 21, 2010

Couple Sought in Murder of Elderly Gay Roanoke Man

Roanoke City Police are searching for a young married couple suspected in the brutal beating death of 80-year-old Harold Markham in the early hours of Tuesday morning.

The couple had been tenants of Markham's, who made a modest living by giving $4.00 haircuts in his home and working six nights a week at Video World on Williamson Rd.

Neighbors called 911 after overhearing an argument between Markham and 23-year-old Justin Musser and his wife Meghan, 20. The Mussers wanted to borrow Markham's car.

The Roanoke Times reports:
Markham died at Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital on Tuesday after what neighbors described as a fierce beating by his two tenants, one of whom emerged from the house laughing and smiling, said neighbor Donnie Duncan, 21, who said he heard the assault begin and ran to tell his mother to call the police.

"We killed the old man," gloated the tenant, according to Duncan.

The boarders, husband and wife Justin Lyn Musser, 23, and Meghan Melissa Musser, 20, escaped after fighting with each other in the street outside the house. Police are searching for them with arrest warrants charging them with murder. The Mussers had lived with Markham for about a month, neighbors said.

Detectives thought Markham's death was "suspicious," and determined it was a homicide after an autopsy, police spokeswoman Aisha Johnson said.
According to the story a neighbor stopped by at about 1:00 a.m. Tuesday morning to drop off a pack of cigarettes when he heard Markham yelling, "Stop! Stop or I'll call the police!" The neighbor ran home and told his mother to call 911.

According to witnesses, the Musser's laughed about the killing and fought with each other in the street afterward. Police arrived after the Musser's had left the scene. Read the full story here.

This tragedy underscores the plight of elderly LGBT people who often have no family or other support systems. Without the benefits of marriage and children and no Social Security survivor benefits, queer seniors often live in poverty and must work well past retirement age and take in boarders. This is a call to action for all of us to take responsibility for the welfare of the senior members of our community. 
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