Suspect arrested in gay man's killing

Courtesy PhotoJames Rickleffs was arrested in connection with the June 12 murder of Eriq Escalon in Diamond Heights.

A 45-year-old parolee has been arrested in connection with the slaying of a gay man who was found bound and gagged in his Diamond Heights apartment.

Steven “Eriq” Escalon, 28, was found dead by his roommate about 6 p.m. June 12. The apartment had been burglarized, and several items — including a laptop, television, jewelry and financial documents — were stolen, police Lt. Hector Sainez said.

Police announced Tuesday that James Rickleffs of San Francisco had been arrested Sunday evening in connection with the homicide after an interview with detectives. Rickleffs is being held on suspicion of murder and burglary, along with  a parole violation.

Escalon and Rickleffs reportedly met at a Castro district bar the night of June 11. Early the next morning, Escalon withdrew money from an ATM and shared a cab to his apartment with Rickleffs, police said.

A witness later identified Rickleffs, who was on probation for grand theft, as a suspect. After an investigation, he was contacted and was found to have Escalon’s property in his possession, Sainez said.

Police are still gathering more information about Rickleffs.

“What we would seek here … is anybody that has had any contact with the suspect in this homicide, whether they met him in casual conversation, whether you met him at a bar, whether you might have actually been out on a date,” police Chief Greg Suhr said Tuesday.

Violence against gay men following meetings in Castro bars has been an issue in the past in San Francisco. In March, The San Francisco Examiner reported that there had been an uptick in gay men being drugged at nightspots and then robbed at their homes. Police say many of the robberies may go unreported because of victims’ embarrassment.

mbillings@sfexaminer.com

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