Thief who may prey on gays hits Tennessee and Kentucky

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Three men in Tennessee and Kentucky have been the victims of a man who appears to be preying on and stealing from gay men.

The suspect, who has told the victims his name is “James,” is six feet, one inch tall, 186 pounds, brown hair, and has a tattoo on his right shoulder. He was last seen wearing a green shirt and blue jeans. He could be driving a 2003 green Nissan Altima, which was stolen from his latest victim.

“James” has allegedly stolen at least three vehicles from unsuspecting men – one in Kentucky, one in Sevierville, Tenn., and the latest victim in Nashville.

Nashville Metro Police detectives say the suspect apparently steals cars and then leaves them at the site of his current victim, where he steals yet another car.

“We are actively looking for this suspect and we need your reader’s help in identifying him or coming forward with any information they may have about this crime,” said Metro Police Detective Billy Estes.

Estes said the suspect has given the same name to each of the three victims – James.

“You should really be very careful when you meet someone for the first time and not be so trustworthy,” Estes said.

His latest victim, a 38-year-old East Nashville man, talked with “O&AN” about the incident, but asked that his identity not be revealed.

The victim said “James” approached him and a group of friends who were out at an East Nashville bar.

“James” and I met at the Lipstick Lounge on a Thursday night during karaoke,” the victim said. “A group of us were hanging out at the bar and James came up and started talking to us. He seemed like a nice guy so we all hung out for the night. He actually said that he was from Louisville, was in town with his son and was staying at the Marriott by Vandy.  He was making rounds in the bar and talking to different people, definitely not shy.”

“James” ended up going home with the victim. When he woke up the next morning, he found the suspect had left, took the victim’s bank card and $100 in cash from his wallet, along with his 2003 green Nissan Altima.

The alleged car thief left another vehicle at the victim’s house, a 2001 Monte Carlo that had been stolen from a male victim in Sevierville, Tenn.

That car is registered to a woman in Pikeville, Ky.

“I called her to let her know it was here, and she told me it was actually her son’s car but it was still in her name,” the victim said. “Her son lives in Sevierville with his boyfriend. A group of them went out on May 28 to Knoxville to a gay bar.”

It was there that “James” met them, driving a stolen Ford Explorer from Louisville.  

Using much the same story he had told the Nashville victim, he told the Sevierville group that he was too drunk to drive back to the Marriott in Knoxville and asked if he could stay with them in Sevierville.  

“They drove him back to their place, he left the stolen Explorer at the bar in Knoxville,” the Nashville victim said. “The next morning when the guys woke up, all of the keys were gone to all of their vehicles and he had stolen the next car, which was the one he left with me.”

The photo of “James” that accompanies this story and was given to Metro Police was taken at the bar in Knoxville on that night.

Police warn that the suspect is “very smooth,” a point that the Nashville victim agrees.

“He seemed to be a very nice guy. He appeared to be college educated, like a frat boy.  I was in a frat so we sort of clicked immediately.  I moved to Nashville from Louisville, so we talked about some of the bars, restaurants, and stores, which are in Louisville. I assumed he was really from there,” the victim said. “If he’s not from there, he spent a lot of time there, he knew his stuff.”

“He apparently hits gay bars,” the victim said. “He tells a big sob story about him and his son, and says he doesn’t have a place to stay. He then robs you.”

If you have information on this crime, call Metro Police Detective Estes at 615-880-3068 or 615-862-7612.