Over the past week, I had some downtime from work, and I used it to do some much needed editing on the LGBT Hate Crimes Project. (Yes, to those who emailed me about the various spelling and typographical errors, I did read your emails. And, no, the errors are not a sign of lack of care on my part. But the sheer volume of these stories makes me more driven to record as many as I can than to spend time editing the ones I have recorded.) It brought be back to some stories I'd researched and intended to write up. So, I'm getting back into that now.
One of the reasons I started the LGBT Hate Crimes Project was because, while researching a post on the Hate Crimes Bill, I noticed several that I was aware of (had read and/or written about) weren't listed on Wikipedia. I soon found out why they weren't -- and never will be -- listed on Wikipedia. The story of Narcisso P. Leggs' murder is a prime example.
I've written before that the victims of hate crimes often disappear in the stories that are published in local -- and occasionally national -- media. Their stories end, it seems, when their lives end. Except for a paragraph or two, the news stories generated after the crime tend to focus mostly on the perpetrator, the details of the crime, the motive, the testimony, the verdict, etc. In fact, sometimes I'm lucky to find anything of the victim left -- even so much as a photograph.
In the case of Narciso Leggs, Jr., I didn't even find that. The news stories that have long since been archived don't contain pictures. At least, not in the archives I saw. In the articles that weren't behind the walls of archives, the only image available was that of his killer, Gregory Michael Pisarcik. What I learned about Narciso Leggs, from all the articles I read, can be summed up in a few bullet points.
- He was 53-years-old.
- He worked for the former Immigration and Naturalization Service (since assimilated into the Department of Homeland Security) for 22 years.
- He lived in a converted garage apartment.
- He owned a white Lincoln Continental and a Rolls Royce.
- He owned at last two guns -- a .45 caliber and a .357 magnum.
- He was gay.
- He met Pisarcik at Laguna Beach, and ended up bringing his soon-to-be murderer back to his apartment.
And, of course, I found he details of how he died.
But it bugged me that I couldn't find a picture of him, while finding so many of his killer, because what I most want to do with the project is first to record the lesser-known, less-publicized crimes that don't get the coast-to-coast publicity of others, and certainly don't meet the notability requirements on Wikipedia, and then to put faces on them -- to identify them with the victims. I want to make the point that hate crimes are every day things that happen to every day people with every day lives.
And every time I research another story, I'm amazed to find at least one reference to yet another story I haven't heard before. And I'm off to find out about a life -- and too often a death -- that probably almost no one had heard of before, that didn't make headlines, or get news time.
That's how I learned about the torture and murder of Narciso P. Leggs, Jr.
Narciso P. Leggs Jr.
Narcisso P. Leggs, Jr. (1949 - June 31, 2002), a gay man, was tortured and murdered by Gregory Michael Pisarcik. Pisarcik, according to court documents, was looking for a gay man to rob when he met Leggs. Upon capture, Pisarcik confessed the murder to police and asked not to be put in a cell with another man because he hated "fags."
Narciso P. Leggs Jr.
At the time of his murder, Leggs, 53, was retired from the Immigration and Naturalization Service, where he had worked for 22 years. He lived in a converted garage apartment in an unincorporated area between Tustin and Santa Ana. Neighbors often saw Leggs polishing his two prized automobiles -- a white Lincoln Town Car and a mauve Rolls-Royce.
Gregory Michael Pisarcik
Pisarcik was originally from New Jersey. According to court documents, he was raped by a man at the age of 12. He started drinking alcohol and using drugs -- including cocaine, heroin, LSD and PCP -- soon afterwards.
Pisarcik lived in the Huntington Beach area and had many misdemeanor convictions for theft and narcotics violations. In 2000 he was sentenced to 60 days in the Ventura County jail, on charges of grand theft and embezzlement, for the theft of an Ojai businessman's truck and $3600 in cash in 1999.
Leggs and Pisarcik met at Laguna Beach and went back to Leggs' apartment, stopping to buy vodka along the way.
At Legg's apartment, Pisarcik grabbed an unopened bottle of champagne and started bashing Leggs' head. At some point he tied Leggs up. He asked where Leggs kept his money, rummaging the apartment between blows with the champagne bottle.
Pisarcik attempted to strangle Leggs. With a pair of scissors, he cut off both of Leggs' ears. Pisarcik then stomped on Leggs' testicles, urinated on him, and shoved a large flashlight deep into Leggs' rectum. Forensic evidence (including blood on the refrigerator) later showed that Pisarcik stopped to eat Leggs' food, and also took a shower before he left.
Finding less than $2, Pisarcik took Leggs' two guns -- a .45-caliber and a .357 magnum -- and drove off in Leggs' white Lincoln Town Car. Before leaving, Pisarcik sat on a bed, over Leggs' corpse, cleaning the guns he would take with him.
While police said they believed robbery was the motive in Leggs' murder, they also said that Pisarcik had been involved in the robbery of gay men.
In custody, Pisarcik told detectives that he hated homosexuals and admitted he'd gone to Legg's apartment to rob him. While he was being transported to the Orange County Jail, he told a deputy: "Don't put me in with the homos. I'm not a homo. That's why I killed him. I'm not a homo."
Leggs' body was found on June 29, 2002, when his landlord called the police after not seeing his tenant for two days.
An autopsy later revealed that Leggs died from blunt-force trauma to the head.
At 5:45 p.m. on July 2, 2002, Pisarcik was seen driving Leggs white Lincoln. He was seen exchanging license plates with another white Lincoln, by a young girl who immediately notified her father, who in turn notified the vehicle's owner, who contacted Ventura police.
Deputy Robert Davidson spotted Pisarcik in Legg's white Lincoln at 6:46 p.m. A two-hour chase ensued. Pisarcik led police on a chase across several freeways, firing the handgun out the window. During the chase, Pisarcik drove between 20 and 100 miles per hour, swerving across lanes and into oncoming traffic.
A deputy's shotgun blast to a tire disabled the car, which had been blocked by pursuing patrol cars. After a 20 minute stand-off, Pisarcik exited the car and peacefully surrendered.
On November 18, 2005, a jury convicted Pisarcik of first-degree murder in Leggs' death. The jury accepted the special circumstance allegations of murder during a robbery and with the penetration of a foreign object, allowing it to be deemed a hate crime.
Upon hearing the verdict, Pisarcik was reported to have smiled, nodded, and then chuckled at the jurors. Judge Frank F. Fasel sentenced him to life in prison, without parole.
In April 2007, the state court of appeals overturned Fasel's sentencing order, and said the state owed Pisarcik two days for time served in the Orange County jail. The court dismissed claims from Pisarcik that his conviction should be overturned based on "insufficiency of evidence."Pisarcik's sentenced of life without parole a was changed to life plus one year and 363 days.