Andrew Sorensen

Photo of a young man in a graduation gown and mortarboard. He has fair skin brown hair, and a neat chinstrap beard and small mustache.Name: Andrew Sorensen.
Died: October 22, 2021.
Age at death: 19.
Cause of death: Homicide (Beaten, stabbed).
Location: Spokane, Washington, USA.

Andrew, diagnosed with cerebral palsy, was adopted by his family as a 6-month-old baby. As he grew from a happy baby into a sweet child, therapy helped him improve his motor skills; but his parents noticed that he couldn’t stand haircuts, loud noises, or the sound of toast being buttered, and had a hard time figuring out what people expected him to do in social situations. So, in childhood, he was also diagnosed with autism.

In his teen years, Andrew began having mental health problems, and occasionally had to go to the hospital. But he was still as loving has he had been as a child, often bringing home homeless teenagers and sharing what he had with them. His mother would help the teens get their GEDs and get food stamps and Medicaid. Andrew himself graduated from an online high school.

However, in the last year of his life, Andrew’s mental health grew worse and he began to self-medicate with hard drugs.

Andrew’s girlfriend, a 19-year-old girl whom he had helped when she was homeless, and who had recently won a $20,000 settlement after a car accident, took him and a group of other teens to Seattle to spend the money; but they were stranded there when the car was stolen. Andrew, who didn’t have a driver’s license, had to call his uncle to bring him home.

Andrew’s girlfriend called her own parents, was brought home, and was involuntarily admitted to the hospital. A sexual assault kit was ordered, but never done. While hospitalized, the girlfriend made death threats against Andrew and against her own parents, and the police was called, though nobody was charged with a crime.

Soon after he returned from the trip to Seattle, Andrew’s girlfriend’s father allegedly ambushed him, put him in the trunk of his fiancee’s car, stabbed him multiple times, and abandoned the car. Andrew’s body wasn’t found until a year later.

When Andrew’s body was found, his girlfriend’s father claimed that he had killed Andrew because Andrew had been “sex-trafficking” his daughter. However, Andrew’s family believes that the alleged killer was angry because Andrew had helped spend his daughter’s settlement money, which he apparently had plans for.

Editorial comments on this case can be found at this link.

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Thando Hani

Photo of a teenage boy with dark brown skin and brown eyes, wearing a white hood and blue shirt.Name: Thando Hani.
Died: A few days after September 18, 2021.
Age at death: 15.
Cause of death: Homicide (Beaten by a vigilante mob).
Location: Cape Town, South Africa.

Thando was walking home from school when he met someone who was fleeing after having stolen a cell phone. Seeing Thando, the person shoved the cell phone into Thando’s hands and ran. The people chasing the thief saw Thando with the cell phone and allegedly began beating him. Neighbors say that some of the people who beat Thando to death knew very well he was autistic and probably innocent. Thando’s father arrived just in time to keep them from setting him on fire, but Thando was already severely injured. He died a few days later in the hospital.

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David Rivamonte

Rivamonte, DavidName: David Christen Lorenzo Rivamonte.
Died: September 14, 2018.
Age at death: 30.
Cause of death: Murder (Shot).
Location: Woodville, Alabama, USA.

David worked as a car repairman and enjoyed working on his own car. In his free time he did the landscaping for his home and helped his sister with her dog-grooming business.

David was shot by a man he had just met, who had the impression that David was a pedophile. The man was convicted of murder and given multiple life sentences.

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Gary Dean

Dean, GaryName: Gary Dean.
Died: September 6, 2018.
Age at death: 48.
Cause of death: Murder (Shot with an airgun; beaten with a rock).
Location: Barnsley, England, UK.

Gary was an avid marathon runner. Every morning he would run through the woodland near his home, on a trail that happened to pass through his neighbors’ land. He liked running, and he liked trains. He was eccentric, introverted, and harmless. He lived with his wife Caroline, the head of a primary school, and followed the same routine every day. And his neighbors hated him for running on that trail on their land.

Gary was systematically harassed by his neighbors for years. Their house and car were vandalized. His home was invaded and he and his wife physically attacked. Someone sent a letter to his wife’s job at a local school, demanding she was fired because Gary was a “paedo” who was luring children into the woods. Gary and Caroline were followed and threatened. Gary, for reasons of his own, built scarecrows in the woods, though he never retaliated directly.

Gary’s neighbors ambushed him as he ran along the trail one day. They shot him with an air rifle and hit him with rocks and branches as he tried to crawl away. Gary died from his injuries. His body was found by a dog walker.

The killers have been found guilty of murder and imprisoned for life.

Editor’s note: Gary’s experiences are very similar to those of Bijan Ebrahimi, also a disabled introvert with autistic traits who was harassed, beaten, falsely accused, and eventually killed by his neighbors.

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Bijan Ebrahimi

Bijan EbrahimiName: Bijan Ebrahimi
Died: 7/14/2013
Age at death: 44
Cause of death: Murder (Burning)
Location: Bristol, England, UK

Bijan Ebrahimi was described as a “lonely misfit”, who was physically disabled due to a bad back, and excluded because of his race. He was Iranian, and only with the help of an anti-racist group had he been able to find housing. Bijan was not diagnosed with autism, but all signs seem to point that way. He was said to have a “learning disability”, but to be quite intelligent, having attended college. He had a lot of trouble finding friends and seemed desperate for attention. He annoyed neighbors by complaining about children kicking their footballs into his flower beds. Bijan was very rule-oriented; when he saw adults smoking and drinking while their children played on a trampoline, he grew frustrated that the adults were getting drunk in front of their children and took photos of them from his kitchen window.

Bijan’s cat and his flowers were his greatest love. He could often be seen tending the geraniums in his flower boxes. From the time he moved in, Bijan was harassed by his neighbors, who decided that he was “a pedo” and would vandalize the flowers he loved just to get a rise out of him. When Bijan yelled at them and took photos to gather evidence of the teens damaging his flowers, they accused him of being the troublemaker. The rumors grew worse and worse despite the lack of evidence; every new neighbor was told that Bijan was a pedophile. Despite knowing that his neighbors were harassing him, police did nothing to help Bijan.

Days before he died, Bijan called police to report a mob outside his apartment. Instead of helping him, they arrested and jailed him overnight. After that he made twelve more desperate calls to emergency services, but police again refused to help him.

Two of his neighbors dragged Bijan from his apartment, beat him, doused him in alcohol, and set him on fire. For twelve minutes, Bijan burned without assistance. When firemen arrived, he was dead.

Police who investigated Bijan Ebrahimi’s apartment after his death found no evidence that he was a pedophile. The photos he had been taking were of teenagers damaging his flowers. Several officers who failed to help Bijan have been suspended, and Bijan’s killers have pled guilty to the crime.

Of the 19 police officers who could have helped Bijan but did not, two were dismissed and served jail sentences of four and ten months, two were dismissed without jail time, and five were given warnings.

The story of Bijan Ebrahimi’s murder is to be made into a film. The producers hope that by telling his story, they will show what prejudice does to people and memorialize Bijan as “a symbol of love”.

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