Sean Ethan Owen

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Sean Ethan Owen (1980–2004) was a gay American white man who was murdered in Durham, North Carolina in February 2004. Owen's body was found in the Eno River after he was shot twice and apparently left for dead.[1]

Matthew Taylor, Derrick Maiden, and Shelton Epps met Owen through a chatroom and lured him from his hometown of Franklinton[2] to Durham, where they intended to rob him and steal his car. When Owen attempted to escape, they shot him twice in the head and disposed of his body in the Eno River, where it was found on February 21, 2004.[2] The shooter, Shelton Epps, was convicted of first degree murder and sentenced to life imprisonment,[3] as was Matthew Taylor. Derrick Maiden testified against Taylor and Epps as part of a plea bargain.[3]

The circumstances of Owen's murder were linked to the murders of other gay men that were connected to the chatrooms. Police denied a connection between the murders, although some viewed the murders as hate crimes against LGBT people.[4] Bloggers have since compared Owen's murder to highly publicized LGBT hate crimes like the murders of Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena.[5]


  1. ^ Associated Press (2005-07-22). "Teen sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping, murder". News 14. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  2. ^ a b Associated Press (2004-04-20). "Three indicted in death of Franklinton man". News 14. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  3. ^ a b Sirius OutQ News (2006-02-15). "Gay chat room killer sentenced in North Carolina". The Advocate. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  4. ^ Aisling Swift (2004-06-09). "Murders put gay community on alert". Independent Weekly. Retrieved 2007-11-07. 
  5. ^ terrance (2007-10-29). "The LGBT Hate Crime Project: Sean Ethan Owen". The Republic of T. Retrieved 2007-11-07.