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Suspect arrested in strangulation of New York gay man

NEW YORK – A 23-year-old Manhattan man has been accused in the strangulation of a 54-year-old man Saturday at a motel in Queens, police say.

Lleuyel Garcia of the Hamilton Heights area of Manhattan was charged early Thursday with the murder and robbery of Joseph Benzinger of Middle Village, the New York Daily News reports.

Benzinger was found dead in his room at the Crown Motel Inn on Queens Boulevard with a shirt wrapped around his neck.

Police said the two men had a sexual relationship.

Garcia stole Benzinger’s wallet and cell phone, and a police source said detectives tracked down the suspect by using cell phone records.

City Councilman Daniel Dromm warned the community about a spike in killings of gay men who use online dating services. Two other New Yorkers have been strangled to death in the past month.