Warning: Graphic details to follow
Just before midnight on June 20, 2020, a Louisiana teenager made a startling call to 911, informing the dispatcher that someone had been strangled. When pressed to elaborate, the caller said "I really fucked up my life tonight."
When officers pulled up to the scene at 401 Maryview Farm Road, Lafayette, Louisiana, they found 19-year-old Chance Joseph Seneca, a 5"9, 140lb teenage male, smoking a cigarette outside the property, waiting for them. The property belonged to Seneca’s father, who was working offshore at the time. The suspect did not live at the address but had his own room there. He said he lived with his mother and stepdad in Duson.
They entered the house and proceeded through Seneca’s bedroom to the adjoining bathroom, where they discovered a naked male teenager laying in a bathtub. The victim’s wrists were described as having been cut to the bone and he had abrasions about his neck indicative of strangulation. White had also been stabbed in the neck and struck on the back of the head. A hammer, saw, knife and ice pick were found at the scene.
The victim, who was later identified as 18-year-old Holden White, was swiftly transported to the Lafayette General Medical Center where he was treated for his injuries. White would be in a coma for days after the attack and would spend almost a month in the hospital. After he regained consciousness, White would tell investigators that he was strangled with a cord until he passed out and woke up in the bathtub to Seneca sawing at his wrists with a knife. "I was saying my final words to myself, which were just, 'Stay calm,'" White told the Enterprise-Journal in January 2021.
Holden White had met Chance Seneca through the Grindr dating app. The two had added each other on Snapchat where they chatted back and forth for a month before they finally met on June 20, 2020. White said he did not notice any red flags during the weeks the pair had chatted. He recalled Seneca picked him up in a white 2006 Toyota Corolla and they drove to Seneca’s unoccupied father’s home to play video games. It was an awkward evening where the conversation did not particularly flow, said White. The last thing White said he remembered was a cord being tightly twisted around his neck after he turned his back to retrieve something from his bag. He then felt a gun being pushed into his back.
“We can do this the easy way or the hard way” Seneca had told White before he passed out.
He later awoke naked in the bathtub. White was choked so hard that every blood vessel in his face ruptured. A later photograph of the teenager in the hospital shows White unconscious and hooked up to machines in a hospital bed, the skin of his face and neck a deep shade of purple, and his arms and hands bandaged from the elbow down.
Chance Seneca was taken to the Lafayette Police station where he began confessing to his actions. He surrendered his Miranda rights and chose to reveal details to officers without the presence of a lawyer. Seneca admitted to the police that he had planned to kill and dismember White that night and had lured his victim through the Grindr app. He said once White was stripped, cuffed and in the bathtub, he planned to cut off the young man's hands, which he intended to keep, but that he was unable to do so after seeing the exposed bones. He admitted to crying in the process of torturing White and said he berated himself for “bitching out” of the plan. Seneca said that he told his victim: “let go- I’m setting you free.”
Before he called 911, he erased the correspondence between himself and White. He told police that he had ordered the tools he used from Amazon, specifically for the murder and dismemberment of his victim.
Holden White came in and out of consciousness throughout the ordeal. He described screaming in pain and looking down to see himself covered in his own blood with his attacker sitting and staring at him.
Chance Seneca was indicted March 18 in federal court with a hate crime, kidnapping, attempted kidnapping, attempted murder, possession of a firearm and obstruction of justice. The indictment alleges that over the course of two days, June 19 and June 20, 2020, Chance Seneca attempted to kidnap one man and successfully kidnapped two others, attempting to murder one of them. It is alleged that he specifically intended to harm the men based on the fact that they were all gay men whom he had lured through the Grindr app. The indictment also states that Seneca admitted he was going to keep his victim’s body parts with the intention of displaying them as trophies as well as consuming them.
In an interview with KATC3, White said: "This is a hate crime in the sense that he made it a point to choose a gay man on a gay app and then in the same breath, he also idolized Jeffrey Dahmer. So, what Jeffrey Dahmer would do to his victims is, he would choose gay men and he would lure them back to his house, he would kill them."
Infamous serial killer, Jeffrey Dahmer, was active between 1978 – 1991. He killed and dismembered 17 males. He kept body parts as trophies and partook in acts of cannibalism and necrophilia. Dahmer severed the head, hands and genitals of one of his victims, Curtis Straughter, 17. Photographs Dahmer took of his victims in various stages of life, death and decapitation are speculated to have inspired Seneca's plot.
White said he was certain the crime against him was a hate crime and that he was chosen because he was openly gay and using the Grindr app. He went on to add that while in prison, Seneca had allegedly said that he also targeted White because he was much smaller and would be easier to kill.
Holden White was in a coma for three days and in the hospital for almost a month. He went to work less than a month after being discharged from hospital but was forced to quit, due to injuries to the nerves in his hands and wrists. It took over six months of physiotherapy to get his right-hand functioning somewhat normally again, however, his left hand has yet to regain full function due to extensive nerve damage. White does not want the incident, or his attacker, to control his life and has recently found employment in a new position. He continues to use dating apps- although he added that he will never arrange a date at the home of another man again. He was tattooed with a semi-colon after the attack, a symbol, he said, that pauses a sentence but does not end it, much like his life and the statement he gave in a later interview: "If you have a traumatic experience happen to you, it’s okay to be sad about it but you need to not stay sad the whole time. You have to move on."
White said he plans to cover up the scars on his wrists with tattoos and that he wants to make sure Seneca can never harm another gay man again. "This is a hate crime to me. It will always be a hate crime to me." He told KLFY news.