Skip to comments.California Transexual Teen Murdered
Posted on 10/20/2002 8:44:52 AM PDT by BeAllYouCanBe
Saturday, October 19, 2002 - FREMONT -- Three Tri-City men were charged with murder Friday after a 17-year-old Newark boy who lived as a girl was killed at a party after several party-goers discovered he was a male, according to court records.
Community members made a haunting comparison to "The Laramie Project" -- a play about a college student murdered because he was gay -- a controversial play that Newark Memorial High School students will perform in November.
The preacher of a Kansas-based Baptist church who vowed to send church members to protest the performance said he also intends to picket the boy's funeral.
Edward Araujo Jr. -- who also went by Gwen, Wendy and Lida -- was punched, dragged into the garage of a home on Saint Matthew Drive in Newark, where the party took place Oct. 3, and a rope was tied around his neck, according to court records. A spokesman at the Alameda County Coroner's Office said he died of blunt trauma.
Michael William Magidson, 22, of Fremont; Jaron Chase Nabors, 19, and Jose Antonio Merel, 24, both of Newark, each were charged Friday at the Fremont Hall of Justice with one count of murder, with a hate-crime enhancement that could add as many as four years if they are convicted.
Merel's 25-year-old brother, Paul,
also was arrested, but released when it was determined he played no part in the crime, said Ted Landswicke, senior district attorney.
The trio -- held without bail -- delayed entering pleas. Merel was referred to the public defender's office and will appear in court Monday. Nabors and Magidson, who already hired attorneys, are expected to enter pleas Thursday.
Robert Beles, Nabors' attorney, said his client was a college student with no history of violence.
"I feel confident my client will be found not guilty," he said after the hearing. "He's not guilty of a hate crime. He's not guilty of anything."
Imelda Guerrero, Araujo's aunt, said the family is pleased the three are being detained.
'A beautiful person'
"We're leaving it in the hands of the authorities and the (three) are going to pay for what they did," she said. "(Edward) was a beautiful person inside and out."
She said her nephew was a typical teenager who enjoyed hanging out with his friends and listening to music -- especially the band No Doubt, and its lead singer Gwen Stefani.
Araujo occasionally wore makeup and women's apparel on campus at Bridgepoint Continuation High School, but nobody seemed to mind, said Curt Carter, the principal at both Bridgepoint and Crossroads Independent Study in Newark -- two schools Araujo attended.
"It wasn't brand new to us as far as a campus," he said.
Araujo's biggest academic problem, Carter said, was attendance.
Araujo went to Newark Junior High School, then to American High School in Fremont, he said. But poor attendance at American forced him to enroll at Bridgepoint for the 2000-01 school year.
In February 2001, he dropped out of Bridgepoint and enrolled at Crossroads, Carter said. But he didn't register at either school this year.
The slaying reminded several people of Matthew Shepard's murder in Laramie, Wyo.
Paul Clifford, a spokesman for Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG), recalled a line from the play: "Everyone says that things like this don't happen here. But it did."
"Newark is Laramie, everywhere is Laramie," Clifford said.
'The Laramie Project'
"The Laramie Project" is an account of the murder of Shepard, whose bludgeoned, nearly lifeless body was found tied to a fence post.
Fred Phelps, the Baptist preacher from Kansas who picketed Shepard's funeral in Laramie plans to dispatch a dozen or so followers to the Newark play and to Araujo's funeral.
"If you live in that sin and die in that sin, you're going to hell," he said Friday. "Everything else seems superficial compared to that solemn fact. That's what we'll say at his funeral."
But Newark Memorial High School drama teacher Barbara Williams was incensed at Phelps' comments.
"He has a right to free speech, however his evil is just overwhelming to me," she said.
The play is, in part, an attempt to alleviate local intolerance, she said.
"(The play) wasn't done on time," she said. "I knew all along that this community is just boiling. It was all there under the surface ... and I knew this play had to be done."
One of the lines in the play, she added, is that murders like Shepard's can happen anywhere.
"We believed it, but it was only intellectualized," she said. "And here it is, so real, just thrown out right in front of us."
Araujo's body was discovered Wednesday in a shallow grave in the Sierra foothills after Nabors led police to the grave site, according to court records. Araujo's hands and feet were bound and he was wrapped in a bed sheet -- still wearing the black shirt, denim mini-skirt and thongs he wore to the Oct. 3 party, records showed.
Police began searching for Araujo when his mother reported him missing Oct. 5. She was reluctant to call police sooner because her son had previous run-ins with police, according to court records. She told police her son had a substance abuse problem.
Nabors initially lied to police about when he last saw Araujo, according to the records. But when police took him to the station and confronted him with what they knew, he told of his involvement, according to court records.
He told police that Magidson and Merel had a previous sexual encounter with Araujo before anyone suspected he wasn't a woman, according to the records.
When several people questioned his gender at the Oct. 3 party, Magidson's girlfriend went into a bathroom with Araujo and learned the truth.
"It's a man; let's go," she said as she came out of the bathroom.
Dragged into garage
When Araujo exited, Merel punched him, knocking him to the ground. Magidson then dragged him into the garage where he was killed, according to court records.
Tara Rodriguez, 16, a Bridgepoint student, said Araujo was very sensitive.
She had this advice for people who don't like cross-dressers or homosexuals: "If you are uncomfortable and you know him, just keep it to yourself," she said. "Whoever did this ... God have mercy on their souls."
A sort of sidebar comment of mine: right or wrong---how much brains does it take to know that it isn't nice to fool young, virile males like this? Duh. Throughout history---and you don't have to be a psychologist to figure this out---men, when deceived like this, can become violent. For whatever reason, right or wrong: their masculinity threatened, peer pressure, homophobia, WHATEVER! Duh.
Makes you wonder if this guy was "cruising" like Matthew Shepard was, i.e., seeking "the rough trade"---lifestyle which many gay men live in, in which they seek out straight men hoping to get roughed up, and they get off on it (something well-known but skillfully and intentionally omitted by media in the Shepard case.)
A picture of two of the perps.
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