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Testimony: gay young man killed, mother stabbed–from St. Petersburg Times

Neo-Nazi hazing and killing of young man has links to deadly hazing

Excerpt:

They also called John Berry, who was vice president of the neo-Nazi group, to testify about what happened that night. His version of events matched that of Cory Patnode, the group’s treasurer. Both men said they were outside when they saw a man in a gas mask hop the fence between their house and Wells’ and run into the neo-Nazi compound. When they followed inside, Ditullio blurted out, “I killed them both. I stabbed them in the head.”

Everyone else fled, but Ditullio remained holed up in the compound overnight, with SWAT members surrounding the place. During the night he wrote a letter to his neo-Nazi brothers, declaring he would “rather be killed than to live with those n—— forever.”

After his arrest, he sent a Christmas card to King’s parents, telling them “hope your Christmas is filled with memories of your dead gay son.”

But Ditullio said his writings were misinterpreted. The card, which he said he regretted sending, was written out of frustration for being falsely accused.

He blamed the stabbings on Shawn Plott, who more closely matched the description of the attacker Wells provided to investigators. He was smaller, with blond hair and had been seen wearing a white T-shirt that night. Ditullio, who is tall with dark hair, had on the group’s uniform colors of red and black when he was arrested the morning after.

Ditullio, who was a prospect in the neo-Nazi group vying for full membership, testified that he was being hazed by his brothers that night. They had put Xanax in his whiskey drink, then taunted him to stay awake. As he was passing out on the couch, he said Plott, looking shaken, came in and tossed him the gas mask.

Plott is now listed as a fugitive.

The case, more than four years running, drew national attention over the question of whether someone who holds Ditullio’s beliefs could get a fair trial. He has a swastika and the words “f— you” on his neck and a barbed wire running down the side of his face.

Circuit Judge Michael Andrews, who will sentence Ditullio, agreed with his defense attorney to have them covered with makeup so the jury would decide his case only on the evidence.

By Hank Nuwer

Hank Nuwer is the Indiana-based author of Broken Pledges: The Deadly Rite of Hazing, High School Hazing, Wrongs of Passage and The Hazing Reader. He has written articles or columns on hazing for the Sunday Times of India, Toronto Globe & Mail, Harper's Magazine, Orlando Sentinel, The Chronicle of Higher Education and the New York Times Sunday Magazine. His new book is Hazing: Destroying Young Lives from Indiana University Press.

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