Chance Seneca, 21, of Lafayette, Louisiana, was sentenced on January 25th to 45 years in federal prison for kidnapping and attempted murder, as part of his elaborate scheme to kidnap, murder and cannibalise gay men.
The court based its sentence on several factors, including its determination that the defendant intentionally targeted the victim and other gay men because of their gender and sexual orientation. Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said:
“The facts of this case are truly shocking, and the defendant’s decision to specifically target gay men is a disturbing reminder of the unique prejudices and dangers facing the LGBTQ+ community today. The internet should be accessible and safe for all Americans, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. We will continue to identify and intercept the predators who weaponize online platforms to target LGBTQ+ victims and carry out acts of violence and hate.”
Evidence was presented that Seneca, in June 2020, had used Grindr, a dating application for gay and bisexual men, to kidnap and attempt to murder a gay man identified in court only as “H.W.” A day earlier, he used the app to set up a meeting with another gay man, but decided not to kill him.
Seneca proposed a meeting with H.W. with the intent of murdering and dismembering him, and he met H.W. and drove him to his father’s home in a 2006 Toyota Corolla. On arrival, he took out a handgun, instructed H.W. to put on handcuffs, and then used several methods (details in the link if you want to know) to attempt to murder him, including strangulation, a hammer, an ice-pick and a knife. Believing that H.W. was dead, Seneca then attempted to dismember him. After his arrest, Seneca admitted that he had planned to continue murdering gay men until he was caught or killed.
Seneca acknowledged that he had kidnapped and attempted to murder H.W. in order to satisfy a compulsive murder-fantasy. Seneca had become fixated with the idea of killing gay men, and this fascination led him to spend months designing a murder-kidnapping scheme that mirrored the murders of gay men committed by the cannibal serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. Seneca specifically targeted gay men, as Dahmer had done. He also intended to eat and preserve the bodies of his victims, as Dahmer had done.
The FBI and the Lafayette Police Department conducted the investigation. Lafayette police had responded to a call from Seneca in June 2020 and found a man, Holden White, 18, in a bathtub with severe injuries, including strangulation marks on his neck and “wrists slit to the bone,” according to an unsealed affidavit.
The affidavit was filed by an FBI agent based on information from Lafayette police and a conversation the agent had with Seneca. It said Seneca told police he had called 911 after the attack “in a self-described effort to be put into a mental institution.” Seneca had kidnapped two other men on June 19, the indictment said.
H.W, the Louisiana man stabbed by Seneca, identified himself as Holden White (pictured above). In an interview, he gave details of the night that he thought would be his last. He said he wants people to have hope for survival, even in their darkest moments.
White told KATC TV:
“Part (of what) I remember is that I reached over to grab something out of my bag. That’s when I felt a cord wrap around my throat and he started pulling me backwards. He strangled me for, I can’t tell you how long, but it felt like a very long time. And he did it to the point as to where every single blood vessel in my face ruptured.”
White woke up in a bathtub sometime later, with his attacker standing over him.
“There was just blood all over my chest and stuff. He was just kind of sitting there watching me, and I was like, ‘Okay this is it.’ My final words to myself was, ‘Just stay calm.’ In my mind I kept repeating to myself, ‘Just stay calm, stay calm.’ Slowly, I passed out.”
Seneca apparently couldn’t go through with the murder, and contacted law enforcement instead. White woke up in a hospital bed.
“I’ve been told that Chance called the police and he said, ‘Hey, I just tried to murder somebody, send an ambulance,’ and when they found me I was still naked in the bathtub.”
White has spoken out to make sure the world understands that the attack was a hate crime – something local police had hesitated to declare. “This is a hate crime due to a fact that he made it a point to choose a gay man on a gay app,” he explained. “He made sure I was a gay man and then in the same breath, he also idolized Jeffrey Dahmer.
As his scars healed, White decided to mark the event with some body modification of his own: a new tattoo of a semicolon.
“Basically, what a semicolon does is it puts a pause on a sentence,” White explains. “Chance tried to stop my life, so instead of a period I made it a semicolon. I’m staying strong. “I’m not going to let this incident get to me.”
Chance Seneca remains in holding at Lafayette Parish Correctional Center awaiting trial.
White said the attack has coloured the way people view him and treat him and has at times been used in verbal or online attacks during arguments or disagreements.
“People tell me he should have killed me that night. He should have finished the job. They should bond him out so he can kill me.”
The case inevitably reminds us of the murders committed by the so-called Milwaukee Cannibal Jeffrey Dahmer between 1978 and 1991 in which he drugged young men and boys, attempted to turn them into sex slaves by injecting acid into their brains, and then (when that failed) killed and dismembered them and ate parts of their bodies. Chance Seneca wanted to emulate Dahmer, but couldn’t bring himself to do it.
More recently, Mark David Latunski, the “Michigan Cannibal”, met a young man on Grindr, slit his throat and fried and ate his testicles, and perhaps other parts of his body. This happened on Christmas Eve 2019, but did not go to trial until October 2022.
Gay men have been subject to abuse and violence for a long time; it is only recently that laws against gay sex were repealed, and even more recently that same-sex marriage was permitted. Although there has been some progress in those areas, change always comes with resistance, and the social media responses to the plight of Holden White reflects the victim-blaming that comes from a rejection of his humanity and his right to seek consensual pleasure as he chooses.
Chance Seneca wanted to be a cannibal serial killer like Dahmer and Latunski, but something stopped him half-way through the process, perhaps a recognition of White’s humanity. To kill and eat any animal requires a deanimalisation – turning them from living, sentient beings into meat. To kill and eat a human is one further step – the victim must be animalised (denied humanity) before being deanimalised and slaughtered. Apparently Seneca could not carry through, but plenty of others, including his idol Jeffrey Dahmer, could.
Another Seneca, the Roman Stoic Lucius Annaeus Seneca the Younger, who lived some 2,000 years ago, wrote about another “Chance”. Don’t you love coincidences like this?