Loved ones say young man's killing reflects difficult life gays face in Polk
In the after-midnight darkness of March 14, 2007, the blood of 25-year-old Ryan Keith Skipper soaked into the soft dirt as his killers drove away in his new Chevy Aveo.
The killers had dumped his body on an unpaved road in a Polk County neighborhood of mobile homes and 5-acre lots where everybody has a dog, a gun and a few head of livestock.
Skipper's car was found 12 miles from his body on a boat ramp to Lake Pansy in Winter Haven, abandoned and partially burned. The two young men later arrested in his murder were charged with committing a hate crime because they told witnesses Skipper was targeted for being a homosexual.
In the year since his death, Skipper has come to represent to gays in Florida what Matthew Shepard has meant to gays nationwide.