On March 14 it only took the jury two hours to convict 20-year-old Andrew Terrell Clark of murder in the November 2010 fatal stabbing of a gay man targeted through an online dating service. Robert Miller, 57, was stabbed 132 times in his condo in Warren on Nov 23, 2010. The killer stole his car and other belongings, and left an unsettling note for the victim’s family.
Reports in The Macomb Daily and Detroit Free Press describe how Clark created a profile on http://www.megamates.com as a way to lure gay men into dates and then rob them. He set up the account just 13 days before meeting Miller, who had been using his http://www.megamates.com account for years. They had at least 40 phone conversations in the days leading to the murder, which took place in Miller’s home.
Miller was found on the dining room floor, having bled to death from the wounds. A note on the scene said “He said tell the Family he loves them. Sincerly(sic), the Killer.”
Clark stole the victim’s computer, cell phone, jewelry and car. The car was found in flames a day later with the computer inside, just blocks from Clark’s home in Detroit. Miller’s cell phone was found in the trash by a Detroit sanitation worker, with more than 40 phone calls between that and Clark’s landline number. Clark also pawned two of Miller’s rings, and had the victim’s earrings in his home.
Clark also left a fingernail at the crime scene.
Police found a notepad in Miller’s condo with a list of names. The last name on the list was “1060 Andre,” Clark’s http://www.megamates.com user name.
Clark was convicted of first-degree murder, larceny and arson. On April 24, Judge James Biernat Jr. in Macomb County Circuit Court in Mount Clemens will be sentencing Clark to life in prison without parole in accordance with state law.
In response to Miller’s attack, Equality Michigan issued safety guidelines for online dating:
– Think about an escape route in advance, in case of danger.
– Tell someone where you are going and how long you will be gone.
– Look for well-lit, public, open and secure areas in which to meet.
– Trust your gut instinct: If you get bad vibes from the person, leave.
– Never show that you feel intimidated, frightened or “out of control.”
– Never let the pick-up know you are alone. Let them think that you have a friend who knows where you are.
– At any sign of trouble make as much noise as possible. Carry a whistle or personal alarm.
– If forced to fight, use whatever you can as a weapon – your stilettos, bag, sharp ring, belt buckle or anything that will inflict pain.
– Strike vulnerable areas of the body (eyes, throat, nose, fingers, crotch, knee, feet); these hurt the most.
-Be cautious about revealing information that could identify you. For example, if you give someone your listed phone number, he or she can get your real name and street address.
-For your first meeting, pick a place that’s public and neutral. If you’re traveling to visit the person in his or her town, pick a place you’re comfortable with when you arrive.
-Always carry a cell phone. This will allow you to call 911 at any time. If finances are tight, purchase a pre-paid cell phone.
-Know that violence is never your fault, no matter what.
Equality Michigan provides victim services, crime tracking, and advocacy throughout the State. To learn more about how to protect yourself against violence, or to report a hate crime, visit their website at http://equalitymi.org