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Suspect in Custody in Murder of Beloved Hair Stylist; Dating App May Have Been Involved

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Friday February 14, 2020

A 56-year-old hairstylist who was highly esteemed and beloved was found beaten to death at a motel in Detroit's 8 Mile district.

Bashar Kallabat may have been the victim of a hookup gone wrong, local newspaper the Detroit News reported.

Thanks to security camera footage, police have identified and detained a 24-year-old suspect, the report said. The unidentified suspect had been wearing a highly distinctive jacket that may have been part of a security guard uniform. The suspect was arrested on Feb. 12.

Police Chief James Craig told the press that Kallabat and the suspect might have initially made contact using a dating app. What police know for sure is that the suspect arrived at the JZ Motel - where Kallabat's battered body was later discovered - via a rideshare. But because Kallabat had paid for that ride, police were unable to use that information in their quest to identify the suspect.

Noted Craig: "If the victim pays for the ride, no one knows who the suspect is." The police chief also said that the case could have been "a whodunit" if not for the high-definition surveillance video captured by the security camera.

Craig also reminded the press that hookup apps can be dangerous. Urging users to "use extreme caution," Craig pointed out that "Sex offenders are using these apps."

Craig referenced a recent tragedy in which a 25-year-old University of Michigan student was allegedly murdered and mutilated by a man he met on a dating app.

As reported at EDGE, the victim in that case, Kevin Bacon (no relation to the film star), disappeared after telling his roommate that he was meeting with a man on Christmas Eve. Bacon told the roommate at about 5 p.m. on Dec. 24 that he had connected with the man on Grindr. A little more than an hour later he texted to let her know he would not be home until late.

But he never came home at all. Bacon's family became concerned when he did not join them for breakfast on Christmas Day and contacted authorities. The victim's body was discovered in a private residence on Dec. 28. The house where he was found was in Bennington Township, Michigan, which is in the region of Flint.

The victim's car was found previous to the discovery of his body, and his wallet and phone along with it. The news report said that police were tipped off when Facebook posts were sent to them. The exact nature of the posts was not disclosed.

50-year-old Mark Latunski was charged with murder in the case, and also with the mutilation of the victim's body. No specifics were reported on the latter charge.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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