On October 27, 1992, Petty Officer Allen R. Schindler, Jr., 22, was brutally beaten to death in a public restroom in Sasebo, Japan, by two of his shipmates, Terry Helvey and Charles Vins. They beat and stomped Schindler to death because Schindler was gay. Their attack was so vicious that they destroyed every organ in Schindlers body. Allen Schindlers mother, Mrs. Dorothy Hadjys-Holman, could identify her son only by the remains of the tattoos on his arms. The medical examiner compared Schindlers injuries to those sustained by victims of a fatal airplane crash or a high- speed automobile accident - all but two of Schindler's ribs had been broken, his penis bore cut marks and his liver contained holes that allowed the pathologist to see straight through it ...
Later Kennon F. Privette, a Navy investigator, told the jury of Helvey's admission to the slaying of Allen Schindler during interrogation the day after the murder.
"He said he hated homosexuals. He was disgusted by them," Privette said. On killing Schindler, Privette quoted Helvey as saying: "I don't regret it. I'd do it again. ... He deserved it."
Allen Schindler at first was happy in the Navy, which he had joined out of high school. During 1991 he served aboard the aircraft carrier Midway, a relatively tolerant ship where he did not feel the need to conceal his homosexuality too carefully. But everything changed at the end of that year when he was reassigned to the Belleau Wood, a vessel with a distinctly unsavory reputation in Sasebo for thuggish behavior by the crew. His mother later told he referred to the ship as the Helleau Wood.
After a summer of such abuse Allen Schindler went in September to the executive officer of the Belleau Wood and apparently told him he was gay in the hope of getting a discharge. In his diary he wrote."If you can't be yourself, then who are you ?" Within days, word that he had admitted being gay filtered around the ship. Allen Schindler noted in his diary:"More people are finding out about me. It scares me a little ..."
That fatal day - on the evening of Oct. 27, 1992 - Helvey and another sailor Charles Vins from the ship Belleau Wood had purchased two large bottles of whiskey, a bottle of schnapps, a bottle of vodka, orange juice and a six-pack of beer and went drinking in a park.
As they left the bar Helvey noticed Allen Schindler, walking by himself ten yards in front of them. When Helvey saw him he said something to the effect, "Let's go fuck with him", so they walked behind him to see where he was going. He walked into a public restroom ...
During his testimony Charles Vince later recalled:" The next thing I knew, Helvey takes off and runs into the bathroom. As I entered the bathroom I could see that Schindler, who had his back to me, was urinating in one of the urinals. At the same time I saw Helvey. He was standing at the urinal right next to Schindler pretending to go to the bathroom. He had his right hand clinched into a fist over his head as if he was getting ready to punch Schindler. The next thing I knew I saw Schindler look toward Helvey. It was more a look as if he felt someone's presence next to him and wanted to see who it was. That's all he did. I did not see them talking to each other ...
As soon as Schindler looked in Helvey's direction, I saw Helvey come down hard with his fist and strike Schindler in the face. Schindler fell hard to the floor immediately. As soon as Helvey struck Schindler he bent down over his head and got him into a head lock and held his neck tight, choking him ... When Helvey yelled I kicked Schindler in the head with the bottom or heel of my right foot. I do not know exactly where I struck him, but it was somewhere between his forehead and the top of his head. ... At that time, Schindler was still conscious and in a crouched position on his feet ... So using the toe of my right foot I kicked Schindler on his right side. He did not fall backward, so, I believe I kicked him in the same manner and same location two more times .... After the third kick, I felt Helvey put his arm out and touch me and call out my name "Chuck," at which time he kicked Schindler in the head.
With that kick, Schindler fell onto his back. Schindler was still conscious at this time. After that, Helvey just continued to kick Schindler. It looked like he was kicking a soccer ball. I kept hearing thuds every time he kicked him. He then started working his way down. I would have to say Helvey kicked Schindler to the right side of his head at least five to ten times real hard. Blood was all over the place. His face was covered with blood. Helvey then started down and began to kick and stomp on Schindler's chest and torso .... I could not tell you how many times he kicked and stomped on his chest, but it was several. It lasted for at least thirty seconds.
The last thing he did before I left was I saw Helvey stomp on Schindler's throat. He stepped on his throat very hard and then put all his weight on it ..."
Stills from the film Any Mother`s Son
The Navy did bury Allen Schindler in a military funeral at his home in Chicago. They then tried to bury the truth about his murder ...
One of the military's own reporters, Rick Rodgers brought the truth about the murder to national attention when he wrote for the Pacific Stars and Stripes that Allen Schindler's murder was a gaybashing. His mother Mrs. Dorothy Hadjys-Holman discovered that one of the men who killed her son, Charles Vins, had been tried and convicted of murder by the military and given a very mild sentence in exchange for implicating Terry Helvey. Charles Vins served a total of 78 days.
Dorothy Hadjys-Holman came to an incredible activism and when the Navy stonewalled her, she worked tirelessly, with help from the gay, lesbian and bisexual community, to insure that Allen Schindler's killers would be brought to justice.
Allen Schindler with his mother
Terry M. Helvey, 21, was sentenced to life imprisonment after tearfully apologizing to the victim's mother. A jury of eight Navy and Marine officers imposed the sentence on Helvey, after deliberating only three hours. Helvey showed no emotion as sentence was passed. The victim's mother, Dorothy Hajdys, said simply: "Thank you."
Terry Helvey is now serving the life sentence in the military prison at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas for the murder of Allen Schindler. By statute, Helvey is granted a clemency hearing every year. In addition, he will be eligible for parole in the year 2002.
Now, with the help of the Service member's Legal Defense Network, Dorothy Hadjys-Holman is trying to collect one million signatures to insure that Allen's killer is never considered for parole. Her story was recently portrayed in the film, "Any Mother's Son."
this sheet, a mangled body,
His only testament and estate,
Bequeaths itself to autopsy. Howls farewell.
Around him, all stainless steel and white
Just like the bathroom at the park
Where red now stains the grout,
Where a shipmate, a kickboxer, beat him dead.
Soon latex hands will reassert the truth:
Died from repeated punches.
Grant him, Lord, eternal rest.
Richmond, VA 1995