Allen R. Schindler, Jr.
(13 December 1969
—27 October 1992
) was an American Radioman Petty Officer Third Class
in the United States Navy
and a victim of a hate crime
due to his being gay
. He was killed in a public toilet in Sasebo, Nagasaki
by shipmate Terry M. Helvey, who acted with the aid of an accomplice, Charles Vins, in what Esquire
called a "brutal murder". The case became synonymous with the gays in the military
debate that had been brewing in the United States culminating in the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell"
Schindler was from a Navy family in Chicago Heights, Illinois
and was serving as a radioman on the amphibious assault ship USS Belleau Wood
in Sasebo, Nagasaki
According to several friends of his, Schindler had complained repeatedly of anti-gay harassment to his chain of command in March and April 1992, citing incidents such as the gluing-shut of his locker and frequent comments from shipmates like "There's a faggot on this ship and he should die."
While on transport from San Diego, California to Sasebo, the Belleu Wood made a brief stop in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Afterwards en route to Japan, Schindler made a personal prank announcement "2-Q-T-2-B-S-T-R-8” (too cute to be straight) on secured lines reaching much of the Pacific Fleet. "When he appeared at captain’s mast for the unauthorized radio message. He requested that the hearing be closed. It was open, with two hundred to three hundred people in attendance." Schindler was put on restrictive leave and was unable to leave the ship until a few months after arriving to Sasebo and four days before his death.
Airman Apprentice Terry M. Helvey who was a member of the Ship's weather department (OA Division, Operations Department) stomped Schindler to death in a toilet in a park in Sasebo, Nagasaki
. Schindler had "at least four fatal injuries to the head, chest, and abdomen," his head was crushed, ribs broken, and his penis cut, and he had "sneaker-tread marks stamped on his forehead and chest" destroying "every organ in his body" leaving behind a "nearly-unrecognizable corpse." Schindler was left lying on the bathroom floor until the Shore Patrol and the key witness to the incident (Jonathan W.) carried out Schindler's body to the nearby Albuquerque Bridge. Jonathan W. witnessed the murder while using the restroom. He noticed Helvey jumping on Schindler's body while singing, and blood gushing from Schindler's mouth while he attempted to breathe. The key witness was requested to explain in detail to the military court what the crime scene looked like, but would not because Schindler's mother and sister were present in the courtroom.
The details revealed
"The Navy was less than forthcoming about the details of the killing, both to the news media and to the victim's family, especially his mother, Dorothy Hajdys."
In the wake of Schindler's murder, the Navy denied that it had received any complaints of harassment and refused to speak publicly about the case or to release the Japanese police report on the murder.
After Schindler's body was held by the key witness, the medical team from the Sasebo Base announced his death. The medical examiner compared Schindler's injuries to those sustained by a victim of a fatal horse trampling saying they were worse "than the damage to a person who’d been stomped by a horse; they were similar to what might be sustained in a high-speed car crash or a low-speed aircraft accident."
At the wake in the family's home in Chicago, his mother and sister could only identify him by the tattoos on his arm as his face was disfigured.
Trial and outcomes
During the trial Helvey denied that he killed Schindler because he was gay stating "I did not attack him because he was homosexual" but evidence presented by Navy investigator, Kennon F. Privette, from the interrogation of Helvey the day after the murder showed otherwise."He said he hated homosexuals. He was disgusted by them," Privette said. On killing Schindler, Privette quoted Helvey as saying: "I don't regret it. I'd do it again. ... He deserved it."
"Under a court-approved bargain in exchange for his pleading guilty to "inflicting great bodily harm," the maximum penalty is lifetime imprisonment. Under the original charge, it was death."
After the trial, Helvey was convicted of murder and the captain who kept the incident quiet was demoted and transferred to Florida. Helvey is now serving a life sentence in the military prison at the United States Disciplinary Barracks, although by statute, he is granted a clemency hearing every year. Helvey's accomplice, Charles Vins, was allowed to plea bargain as guilty to three lesser offenses, including failure to report a serious crime, and to testify truthfully against Terry Helvey and served a 78-day sentence before receiving a general discharge from the Navy.
The events surrounding Schindler's murder were the subject of a 20/20
episode and were portrayed in the 1997 TV film Any Mother's Son
as well as President Bill Clinton
's passing of the bill of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell
. In 1998, Any Mother's Son
won a GLAAD Media Award
for Outstanding Made for TV Movie.