2 Separate New Jersey Murders Connected by LGBT Thread

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Erin Littles
    Transgendered murder victim Victoria Carment White.

    It's a tale of two horrific crimes -- but only one city.

    Victoria Carmen White, 28, was transgendered and spent her last night alive in her Maplewood, N.J. apartment after meeting two men at a bar in nearby Irvington last month.

    Arthur Downey, 27, was gay. His last night alive was on March 15th of this year, after picking up a partner from an on-line chat room and going to his apartment -- also in Maplewood.

    In White's case, lawmen are searching for two men, Marquise Foster, 25, of North Plainfield, N.J. and Alrashim Chambers, 23, of Newark.

    In Downey's murder, they have arrested John Staten, 30, of Orange.

    "Sadly in both cases we're investigating, the possibility exists that the sexual orientation of the victims may have played a role in each case," said Acting Essex Prosecutor Robert Laurino.

    White died after some sort of altercation, possibly after the discovery of her transgendered status, according to one source.

    "There were certain comments made at the scene of the crime which lead us to believe that the defendants did know her sexual orientation," Laurino said.

    When asked if sexual bias crimes are an issue, Laurino said, "It is a problem."

    "Quite often you find that members of the LGBT community are often targeted because of their sexual orientation," Laurino added.

    He said both cases have been turned over to the Bias Crimes unit in his office.

    Garden State Equality founder Steve Goldstein said his organization will offer a $2,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of either or both suspects.

    Follow Brian Thompson on Twitter @brian4NY