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Suspect Questioned in Violent Home Beating Death of NYC Gay Man

by Jason St. Amand
National News Editor
Thursday Mar 8, 2012
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New York police recently questioned a suspect who may be involved in the murder of a 57-year-old man from Chelsea, New York, the New York Post reported. But the local NBC affiliate reported that the 24-year-old suspect was released, and that another suspect is being sought for questioning.

John Laubach was found brutally murdered inside his apartment last week. Laubach, an insurance business executive, was bound with duct tape, tied to a bedpost with an electrical cord and gagged with duct tape.

He was found only wearing a white undershirt and his face was covered by a white towel. Authorities claim that there was no sign of forced entry into the apartment but his wallet and computer were missing.

Surveillance footage from a bank near the victim’s apartment shows a man trying to use Laubach’s debit and ATM card. The Post notes that the suspect may have used Laubach’s credit card at a Bronx diner last weekend.

The Post quoted "a source" who implied that Laubach would sometimes meet men at a neighborhood X-rated shop. The victim may have entered into a "financial relationship" with the young men, the Post source added. Laubach’s neighbors said that he had relations with young men that he would often bring home.

A source close to the deceased told EDGE that it was well known among Laubach’s friends that he would sometimes patronize young men and host them in his apartment. The source said Laubach was open about his preferences for younger men, whom he might find through familiar websites and ads in local publications. But he also met men elsewhere, even on the street. In a few cases, the men moved in with Laubach for a short time.

"I don’t know him to have any enemies," a longtime friend said. "Maybe he picked up the wrong person, who thought he had money."

Laubach used to work at Sotheby’s and later became a successful caterer. When Sept. 11 put a dent in that business, he went to Dubai to explore business opportunities but returned quickly. He worked most recently as a florist.

Laubach was well known in his building and neighborhood for often carrying a white cockatoo named "Bolo" on his shoulder. He was was an outgoing man with a sunny disposition despite being undiscovered in his older Fifth Avenue apartment for at least 20 hours after suffering a debilitating stroke.

His most intense focus of interest was the Episcopal Church. He was a hard-working volunteer at the Church of the Ascension, where he routinely helped prepare Sunday service.

"He usually came in around this time in the morning to set up for the service," Julian Lewis, assistant sexton at the Episcopal church, told the . "He was a wonderful man."

He would often handle everything from the floral arrangements to setting up the chalice and wine. A friend told EDGE that Laubach had expressed a definite desire to pursue a career in the church, either as a cleric or in some other capacity.

"He’s a very, very dedicated person," church sexton Len Bowman told Private Investigations, a crime blog. "You could tell the church was his family."

Police have not made any arrests involving Laubach’s murder and the city medical examiner is currently determining the cause of death.

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