Hate crime charges have been added in a grisly assault last summer that left a gay Louisiana teen in a coma for three days.
Holden White of Lafayette was just 18 when he met 19-year-old Chance Seneca on the gay dating app Grindr. After communicating for a month, the two young men decided to meet in person in late June.
White, a sophomore at Louisiana State University, Eunice, said he invited Seneca over to his new apartment, but Seneca convinced him to come to his father’s house to play video games.
After some awkward conversation, White said his next memory is of being pulled backward by a cord and being choked so severely that “all the blood vessels in my face ruptured” before he passed out.
White said that when he regained consciousness, he was naked in a bathtub looking up at Seneca slicing his left wrist.
“I remember thinking, ‘Well, this is it,’” he told The Acadiana Advocate. “The last words I said to myself were just ‘stay calm.’ Over and over and over in my head I was just repeating to myself to stay calm.”
According to the local news site, Seneca called 911 and told the dispatcher that he had killed a man. He was at the house when officers responded.
White suffered stab wounds, blunt force trauma to the back of his head and cuts on his wrists that were so deep his hands were nearly severed. He spent nearly a month in the hospital and in rehabilitation.
“When I woke up, I didn’t remember anything. I didn’t remember going to his house,” White told NBC News. “The human mind, I’ve since learned, will block out traumatic experiences.”
Since then, details from the encounter have emerged even as his body continues to heal. The scars on his neck, where White said Seneca took the tip of a knife and repeatedly twisted into his throat, have already started to fade.
He’s regained most of the use of his right hand, but his left hand is still numb and doesn’t have full grip strength. His left hand was damaged more severely — the artery and several tendons were severed — and may require more surgery.
He’s also suffered some short-term memory problems.
Seneca was arrested at the scene and charged with attempted second-degree murder, and remains jailed on $250,000 bond.
Police initially declined to include hate crime charges, claiming they believed the attack stemmed from an argument between the two men.
“There were several indicators that point us to the direction that it was not a hate crime,” Sgt. Wayne Griffin of the Lafayette Police Department told The Acadiana Advocate shortly after the initial charges were filed. “Just because of the sensitivity of the case, we cannot go into any more about it.”
Griffin declined to comment further this week and referred NBC News to the FBI.
Alicia Irmscher, public affairs officer with the FBI in New Orleans, said the agency is aware of the incident but would not address whether it was conducting an investigation.
White, however, said he was talking to FBI agents and the Lafayette Parish District Attorney’s Office about the case.
The hate crime charges, which carry an extra five-year prison sentence, were added by the district attorney on Jan. 20.