Last month in one of B2S.com’s many gay history lessons we discussed the horrific 1992 gay-bashing murder of U.S. Navy serviceman Allen Schindler.
Now thanks to San Francisco activist, and highly regarded citizen journalist Michael Petrelis, A 900-page file from the Navy has been made public, via the Freedom of Information Act about Schindler’s murder which exposes facts of the Navy’s vile homophobia and its cover-up in his murder case.
Allen Schindler, was a young U.S. sailor, stationed in Sasebo, Japan in 1992. After numerous episodes of verbal and physical harassment and beatings, Schindler tried to get out of the military. On October 27, 1992, Schindler was brutally beaten and killed by two his fellow sailors. The murder took place in a men’s restroom of a public park. Schindler’s head was bashed repeatedly against a urinal so violently that the porcelain broke. His own mother, Dorothy Hadjys, was unable to identify her poor sons mutilated and disfigured corpse.
The Navy covered up the Schindler killing, granting a sweetheart immunity plea bargain to one of the suspects, Charles Vins, and convicting the other, Terry Helvey. But gay friends of Schindler’s demanded that justice be served; they shared information about the miscarriage of justice with the Stars & Stripes newspaper, which wrote the first news story about the murder and Petrelis himself lobbied for justice for Schindler, and to hold the Navy accountable.
“Allen Schindler was destined to become yet another gay man killed and forgotten,” said Michael Petrelis. “Now, 23 years after his death, we finally share the full details of his murder. In doing so, we honor his memory on Veterans Day 2015. People must know the role that governmental homophobia played in his murder and the subsequent cover-up.”
Mike Petrelis is sharing the Allen Schindler file and has highlighted eight pertinent facts about the gay-bashing murder that have never been shared before with the media or public.
The U.S. Navy’s Gay Witch Hunt: 8 Facts About the Schindler Murder
Revelations in the Allen Schindler file include:
1. A Sodomy Witch Hunt: During its wide-ranging and comprehensive criminal investigation, the Naval Investigative Service questioned Schindler’s acquaintances in the service. However, telling the truth about Schindler made his colleagues vulnerable to persecution under the military’s archaic anti-sodomy laws. ( Pages 286 – 297 )
2. Constant Anti-Gay Harassment: Allen Schindler’s berthing area on his ship, the USS Belleau Wood, was defaced with the words “ball-gazer” — just one part of a constant and escalating campaign of homophobic harassment he faced from fellow sailors. ( Page 729 )
3. A Diary of Persecution: Allen Schindler meticulously chronicled the anguish and abuse he experienced in a diary he kept in the weeks leading up to his murder. The entire diary, part of the evidence at trial, is now available to the media. ( Pages 379-412 )
4. Public Humiliation: Radioman Petty Officer Schindler filed for a discharge because of his homosexuality and requesting a closed and private hearing. Instead, sadistically, the ship’s captain discussed the matter in front of other shipmates, accelerating the climate of danger that led to Schindler’s brutal killing. ( Page 133 )
5. Private Humiliation: Medical examiners performed post-mortem rape protocol tests on Schindler’s corpse by taking a rectal swab and mouth smear. (Page 570)
6. Perjury: Terry Helvey, the convicted killer now serving a life sentence at the Ft. Leavenworth Penitentiary, initially made a bogus confession to naval authorities. Later, it was amended in his own hand-writing and presented to the judge, including honest details of the fatal beating and killing of Allen Schindler. ( Page 608 )
7. Beaten to Death: Accomplice Charles Vins, who served only four-months in the brig in exchange for testimony against Helvey, confessed to kicking and stomping Schindler as he lay dying on the public restroom floor. Vins also admitted guilt to a sodomy charge, but did not name his sexual partner. Because of his sweetheart deal, Vins was protected from the typical punishment for servicemen convicted for sodomy. He was ultimately given an honorable discharge in June, 1993. ( Pages 27, 753-761 )
8. Gay Media Watchdogs: The Navy closely monitored the gay media’s coverage of the investigation and trial, paying particular attention to stories in San Francisco’s Bay Area Reporter, Chicago’s Windy City Times and San Diego’s Update. ( Pages 133, 182 – 186 )
8. The Murder Scene: Local Japanese police in Sasebo took extensive photographs of the crime scene within hours of Schindler’s brutal death. These graphic images were shared with the Naval investigators, who nonetheless covered up the facts. ( Pages 516-562 )
On this Veterans Day let us all remember Allan Schindler. A noble and patriotic life wasted not on the battlefield of war. But on the battlefield of hatred and homophobia.
FBI file available for viewing at: www.dropbox.com/s/htkw50xgrzt5b2l/r_2015-001627%20Release.pdf .