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Alabama

Gay Eagle Scout charged with murder of man in Alabama trailer park

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Zachary Stirewalt, a 21-year-old openly gay Eagle Scout and former student at Appalachian State University, has been charged with murder of a man with whom he was staying at the time.

According to Lt. L.R. Sanderson a spokesperson for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, deputies were called to the scene of the shooting around 6:30 a.m., Saturday, to find Daniel Turman, 43, dead from multiple gunshot wounds. Stirewalt was taken into custody as a person of interest and later charged with murder.

Zachary Stirewalt
Booking photo

Zachary Stirewalt in an earlier photo in his Eagle Scout uniform.
Photo courtesy of Robin Stirewalt.

The shooting occurred at Sunshine Village, a sprawling trailer park of about 300 homes in central Alabama.

Police, who have not released information regarding a possible motive, indicated that the victim, who lived alone, had apparently offered Stirewalt a place to stay after learning that he had recently left home and had no place to live.

The shooting would appear to be at odds with Stirewalt’s life and accomplishments, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

While a student Green Hope High School in Cary, N.C., he was the school band’s trumpet section leader and principal trumpet for the school wind ensemble. He was a member of the National Honor Society and served as an officer with a youth group at White Plains United Methodist Church in Cary, where he also sang in the choir and played trumpet with the church orchestra.

In 2009, Stirewalt earned his Eagle Scout rank from the Boy Scouts of America — he renovated the youth rooms at the White Plains United Methodist Church for his Eagle project.

An aspiring photographer, Stirewalt spent the summer in New York City, where he worked as an intern at a photography studio, and chronicled his interests on his blog Sassy Gay Hippie.

Natalie Hayes, 33, manager of Go Studios, where Stirewalt worked from June through late August, said she hired him on the spot and allowed him to live with her for more than two weeks until he found a place to stay.

“He was such a people-sweet person,” said Hayes, who added that she never saw Stirewalt get angry, lose his temper or even say anything rude.

“I can only imagine that he did it in self-defense and that was his only option,” she said.

Stirewalt is being held at the Montgomery County jail, where he has been placed under suicide watch; his bail was set at $75,000.

According to an obituary published in the Montgomery Advertiser, Turman is survived by two sons.

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17 more reader comments:

  1. BS! He can’t be openly Gay, he would have been kicked out.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:19pm
  2. Good

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:23pm
  3. you can be openly gay, and an Eagle Scout, just probably not in that order. He probably came out after. But once an Eagle Scout, always an Eagle Scout.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:24pm
  4. Something really doesn’t sound right there….

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:27pm
  5. I find it baffling what his sexuality has to do with anything about this story, or why it’s being published on this page

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:28pm
  6. unless it did have to do with why he might have killed the other person.. maybe the older man was forcing him into something he did not want to do with him.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:31pm
  7. nope….there’s more going on here than just some kid killing a 43-year old troll……

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:35pm
  8. There is more to be revealed about this story . . . just wait. Seen it before. Sounds like Mattson shares my angle on it.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:38pm
  9. Surprising. His blog seems so upbeat. Though, charges don’t mean guilt, just enough suspicion.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:39pm
  10. Maybe that’s the case, but it’s indicated nowhere in the article…Even if so, what if the young man killed his hetero lover for whatever reason? Would we be harping on his sexuality in that situation? (More likely his race would be made an issue, if he were a racial minority…see a pattern?)

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:42pm
  11. all i can say is i was homeless at 15 for being gay, i’ve ran into MANY dirtbags “trying to do the christian thing”………turns out they wanted payment………..and i’ve been to Alabama……..there are closet cases EVERYWHERE……there’s more to this story…

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:45pm
  12. why connect his sexuality with it you dont hear a stragiht man killed a stragiht women do ya

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 7:53pm
  13. I hope Southern Poverty Law Center in Montgomery will see if they can help this young man.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 8:01pm
  14. Why does everyone act so surprised when LGBTQ Nation mentions when someone is gay. Hello? You’re reading a gay website, so it stands to reason that the stories they report are about gays or the gay community. Assuming everything they report has at least one gay person connected to the story, I assume that’s the reason they mention it. If they didn’t mention it, we’d all be wondering who in the story was gay or why they reported it.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 8:50pm
  15. is it because he was in a trailer park? hmmmmmmmmm……

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 8:53pm
  16. People kill their boyfriends/girlfriends all the time. I don’t know why this guy did it, but I think we can all acknowledge it’s not strictly a hetero condition to want your boyfriend dead, with or without good reason.

    Posted on Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 9:31pm
  17. interesting

    Posted on Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 8:33am