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Suspect in custody for murder of gay flight attendant in Mexico City hotel

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Updated, 10/31/11, 9:00 p.m. PT.
A male prostitute has been arrested for the brutal murder of Nick Aaronson. Story here.

MEXICO CITY — A Phoenix-based flight attendant for U.S. Airways was found dead in a Mexico City hotel room early Saturday morning in what local police are calling a homicide, and according to the victim’s mother, a suspect is now in custody.

Nick Aaronson, 27, was found naked, face down on the hotel bed, unconscious, with a belt around his neck and his hands tied behind him. Aaronson showed signs of being choked and beaten before being strangled to death, according to a spokesman for the local patrol district of the city’s police force.

NOH8 Campaign

Nick Aaronson

Police were called to Aaronson’s room at the Hilton Hotel when he failed to appear to catch a scheduled shuttle bus Saturday morning, prompting fellow crew members to have hotel employees check on him.

Investigators say no drugs or weapons were found at the scene, and the contents of his luggage was found scattered from the bed leading to the door to the outside hallway, although police homicide detectives were not releasing further details.

Nick’s mother, Anita Aaronson, told KPHO-TV that the FBI called her on Sunday to tell her they had made an arrest. She said they used hotel security cameras to catch the man. A friend of the victim said the suspect stole Nick’s iPhone and police were able to track his location using the phone’s GPS system.

Deborah Volopeck, president of the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA) Council 66 — a union which represents U.S. Airways employees — and who knew Aaronson personally, told the Arizona Republic, that Nick was a “very popular” and “very loved” member of the airline’s Phoenix-based crews.

“It’s tragic. We are caring for our co-workers. We’re a tight-knit group in Phoenix. “What our focus is right now, is caring for our co-workers who all know Nick… His loss is a heavy loss for all of us,” said Volopeck.

A statement on the AFA’s website says there doesn’t appear to be a safety breach at the hotel. Despite that fact, a spokesman for the airline told media inquiries that U.S. Airways has decided to move the crews to another hotel in Mexico City while on layover.

“We do not believe our crew members are at risk. However, until this matter is resolved, layover crews will be temporarily relocated to an alternative location.”

Aaronson, who was gay, was active in several LGBT rights causes, including participating in the NOH8 Campaign, was a supporter of marriage equality, and advocated on behalf of the Human Rights Campaign.

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Filed under: North America

63 more reader comments:

  1. The world is such a cruel place :(

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 5:54pm
  2. crap….

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 5:56pm
  3. :( R.I.P <3

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 5:57pm
  4. Oh my god… :(

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 5:57pm
  5. its horrible that people who are different get harmed its just not right >:c

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 5:57pm
  6. :(

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 5:59pm
  7. This is awful but is it really necessary to say that he way gay? That may have had nothing to do with the murder. Are we supposed to feel worse because he was gay? Being gay doesnt make yourself anymore special than anyone else

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 5:59pm
  8. The slaughter continues! When are we going to stand up against these crimes & change things? I’ve been begging people to care about Alexandra Flanagan’s brutal murder without much luck & now learning of this tragedy has weakened my spirit. I’m devastated!

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:00pm
  9. How Horrble!

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:01pm
  10. SAME HERE

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:02pm
  11. wow, how horrible :(

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:04pm
  12. how sad it need to stop

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:07pm
  13. I think the world needs to know whether someone was gay or not… no it doesn’t make someone more special but it does show the fuckin statistics of gay murders and shows patterns in certain instances…. shit that pissed me off for real !!!! Sorry Facebook for my language but enough with the ignorance ….

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:07pm
  14. R.I.P. ALEXANDRA FLANAGAN

    Alex was brutally murdered, her body was cut up into pieces & scattered around her small Canadian town. I’m not allowed to comment on how this case was handled from the start, but some feel things would have been done differently if Alex wasn’t a Lesbian. This is one of Canada most horrific crimes & yet it has NOT made national news. Her remains were found in 3 locations around Barrie, the final place was on the front lawn of the Ontario Provincial Police’s Barrie headquarters in some high grass. Please tell everyone you know of Alex’s story, so we can prevent this type injustice from ever happening again. Thank you.

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:13pm
  15. OMG – can we not just stop the fucking hate once and for all. How f-ing horrific does it have to get?

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:16pm
  16. I’ve been trying to bring awareness to Alex’s case & these types of crimes for years, but I’m too late & now I have to add another victim to my cause. I’ve lost a loved one to a violent murder & only know too well the suffering another family is now struggling to survive. I foolishly thought over these 4 awful years that I could change things, but clearly I have failed & the only thing different is how my “club of sorrow” has grown once again.

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:19pm
  17. Am I the only who can tell he brought the wrong trick back from the bar? Or hooked up with the wrong trick online? It’s very obviously what happened.

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:19pm
  18. Omg…that’s horrible

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:22pm
  19. THIS BRINGS ME TO TEARS ..
    I’M THINKING HE MET SOMEONE ON THE NET FOR A DATE & THEY DID THIS TO HIM ..
    BUT I DON’T KNOW ..
    I PRAY WHOEVER DID THIS TO HIM WILL BE BROUGHT TO #JUSTICE SWIFTLY ..
    ~ heartbroken ~

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:24pm
  20. Wow, Chey. Really? /:

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:25pm
  21. I wonder if he met someone and invited them back to his room….This could of happened to me many times. I send out love to his friends and family.

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:25pm
  22. I feel sick to my stomach!!! I hate what this society has become

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:30pm
  23. Nothing New this always happens And Its funny when ppl say It Gets Better errrmmm NO IT DOESN’T Assholes!! There still LGBT People getting murdered and Killing them selves all the fucking time….Its not a shock this ALWAYS Happens I’m not In shock I’m use to this I see It so much….Fucking Homophobes Grow the fuck UP and stop Being Hatered over Us Were fucking humans Just Like YOU If you don’t understand that than go kill yourself assholes or get Killed….

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:41pm
  24. Requiescat in pace.

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:46pm
  25. It’s highly unfortunate. God bless him

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:48pm
  26. Geez

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:51pm
  27. Just throwing this out there, If you have ever been to Mexico they will kill you for more than just your sexual interest. I’ve had friends piss drunk get stabbed for not paying the kid $1 for gum on the street sides.

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 6:51pm
  28. I lived in Mexico City. It’s a dangerous place. He may have innocently took someone back to his hotel. I used to see so many Americans do this. You can never be too careful. A similar thing happened to a famous Mexican TV personality. He survived. The attacker didnt care if he was gay, he just wanted to rob him.

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 7:04pm
  29. Ugh

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 7:21pm
  30. Why do people like this?

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 7:34pm
  31. Americans need to learn that foreign counties have different social rules. When I lived in France, we had to continuously warn the drunk American girls that “dirty dancing” with the locals was an invitation to get raped because that type of dancing sends a different message.

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 7:41pm
  32. Makes me so sad!!!

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 7:51pm
  33. Christian fundamentalism does things which even Jews have long quitted,for centuries,due to the suffering Jews have gone through persecution,they learned the hard way it´s not actually divine to kill out of prejudice

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 8:15pm
  34. Obviously the airline feels it was a hate crime or they wouldn’t have made the statement…”U.S. Airways has decided to move the crews to another hotel in Mexico City while on layover.
    ‘We do not believe our crew members are at risk. However, until this matter is resolved, layover crews will be temporarily relocated to an alternative location.’”

    Your crew members are not at risk!!?? One of them was viciously murdered! Or gay guys don’t count?

    If the airline thought it was a random act of violence, then they couldn’t have made that statement.

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 8:23pm
  35. We Deal with different hate acts just about everyday, but we must also watch our surroundings when it come to meeting people. This type of shit just make me mad & wondering if the person has any family. My Prayers goes out to the Family & Friends of this person.

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 9:10pm
  36. Omg. Horrible!!!

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 9:10pm
  37. Boo!

    Posted on Sunday, October 30, 2011 at 9:26pm
  38. :(

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 12:26am
  39. How terrible! :(

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 12:46am
  40. when is this gonna stop?

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 12:49am
  41. I hope they caught the right person who is responsible. These attacks have to stop we are equal to everybody elae we dont deserve to be treated differently

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 12:56am
  42. Happy Halloween Y’all :> O so said THE BYRD :>)

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 12:57am
  43. Happy Halloween Y’all :> O so said THE BYRD :>)

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 12:57am
  44. i totally agree with ryan we are still human beings this is rediculous

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 1:01am
  45. those stupid,gay-hating people.and they call themselves Christians…how dare they? i am not a spiritual person,was raised catholic and went to a girl´s school half my life,but i cant understand how they can´t see,LOVE IS LOVE NO MATTER WHICH GENDERS THE LOVERS ARE.

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 2:04am
  46. Rest in peace. sitting here eyes getting ready from this info

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 3:50am
  47. Hope person in custody getsTIME.

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 3:53am
  48. Folks, they didn’t say where the suspect was from. Could very well have been a hotel employee who knew that the flight attendants stayed there and either didn’t like him or disagreed with him being gay. It wasn’t necessarily a trick gone bad, but that could be it too. We don’t know yet.

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 4:00am
  49. Heartfelt sympathy to Nick’s family, loved ones and friends.

    Such a great loss.

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 4:21am
  50. It’s too bad that his sexual orientation has to be mentioned and not his hair color or the color of his eyes, but this hot redhead most likely met his demise, in part because he was, in fact, gay. Homophobia or self-loathing of the killer can lead to this very thing. May Nick rest in peace!

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 4:49am
  51. Amazingly, you assume this was because he was gay, and if it was because he was gay he was targeted.

    Maybe it was because he was gay, but it had to do more with HIS choices than that of his attacker.

    How about the average gay person’s lifestyle and the risky behavior they exhibit in choosing their sexual partners?

    Undeserving? Absolutely. Perhaps there was some poor judgement in here also. We’ll see………

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 4:58am
  52. I’m sorry but I have no idea why anyone is discussing the fact he’s gay. While yes, it’s possible that it was a hate crime, it sounds entirely possible that he was killed in a random act of violence that sadly happens all the time in Mexico City. Especially with the Iphone being stolen, it sounds to me like it was more robbery than hate crime. I might be wrong, and the hate crimes again the LGBT community are horrible, but I don’t think we should be assuming anytime a gay person gets murdered it was because of their sexuality.

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 6:26am
  53. Well I would rather be Gay, then a Gay killer!!

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 7:16am
  54. rip may the gates open for you

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 7:39am
  55. He may have had a problem with compulsive addiction, which manifested for him as sex addiction. I say this because I have someone in my life who suffers from this, who travels and who has put himself in similar dangerous life-threatening situations (via craigslist). This story really touches home for me for this reason. It can be the hardest fight to resist when it triggers — the feelings of hopelessness, worthlessness, despair, unbearable anxiety, weakness, and a desire to die (to escape). One approach that has helped my friend is to avoid the steps that lead to triggers. Obviously in this situation one needs therapy, but it can take the rest of one’s life to find peace. RIP Nick.

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 8:20am
  56. Frederick, get real. Gay men are no more promiscuous than straight men, or women for that fact. I am so sick of seeing these ignorant statements from certain people. Maybe he did meet someone and took them back to his room. Your telling me straight men and women dont do that all the time? Can you really sit there with a straight face and dare say something that false? I agree that this may not be a hate crime, and it may be a random act of violence, but I absolutely abhor these ridiculous asinine comments about how it’s because gays engage in “risky” behavior. Wake up

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 8:35am
  57. This is bs if you cut us we still bleed just like the rest of the human race damn homophobes grow up and get a life if you want to go to jail that freaking bad there are numerous ways to do so without killing!

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 10:27am
  58. Solange. Did I say straight guys don’t take equally stupid risks? It’s a numbers game dude. Put yourself out there too many times, you’ll get burned eventually. Straight or gay. So that’s exactly what I’m saying. With a straight face. The AVERAGE gay guy takes more risks than the average straight guy. Why is this so hard to accept? It’s a fact: For many different reasons, being gay in of itself is riskier than being straight.

    Who the hell knows what happened here? Maybe he was just robbed. Or, if it was someone he INVITED to his room, was that someone gay? I get sick of the asinine statements that assume because he was gay he was murdered by some straight whack job preying on gays.

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 2:36pm
  59. I can’t even imagine the terror he must have gone through. Murdered in his own hotel room. His murderer deserves a horrible, painful death. An eye for an eye.

    Posted on Monday, October 31, 2011 at 3:43pm
  60. @Justin re: gays aren’t more special

    Nick died in a tragic and horrific way and all you can do is inform us that gays aren’t any more special than straights? What’s your damage? How can anyone be so callous and insensitive?

    Posted on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 6:27am
  61. i cant belive it RIP, you will be miss :( i met him last week :((

    Posted on Tuesday, November 1, 2011 at 10:53pm
  62. I used to be a Flight Attendant for a few major airlines. We stayed at the same Hilton in the airport whenever we stayed in Mexico City. It is the only place in the world where we were advised to not so much as take a single step out of that airport!!!

    Whenever I stayed there, I always remembered and noted how sleezy everything was right outside! Nick was warned and he knew how horrible that place was! Yet, he still took the most foolish risk of his life!!!

    Posted on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 12:53am
  63. He brought the wrong trick back to the hotel. It should be a lesson to us all. Certain parts of LA, NYC, Chicago, etc… are just as dangerous… and the web doesn’t really tell you much, specially if you’re visiting. I’ve been to Mexico City several times… but I’ve been told what areas to avoid… just as I would tell friends visiting what areas of SoCal to avoid… It’s so sad…

    Posted on Wednesday, November 2, 2011 at 4:36pm