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Crime News New York Homicide

After A Couple Was Attacked In Their Brooklyn Home, Tensions Explode Between Cops And The LGBTQ Community

When Amanda Leach said a gunman had forced her and her girlfriend, Sylvia Lugo, into their home, raped her, and murdered Lugo, some accused Leach of being the killer herself.

By Becca van Sambeck
New York Homicide Premieres Saturday, January 1st

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Park Slope is a Brooklyn neighborhood with gorgeous brownstones and a safe, family-friendly reputation. But in 1995, a horrific crime shocked the neighborhood. 

On the night of July 5, 1995, Sylvia Lugo and her girlfriend, Amanda Leach, had just headed back home from a road trip when they were accosted from behind by a gunman, who forced them into the apartment, The Brooklyn Eagle reported in 2012. He forced Leach to tie up Lugo before taking her into another room to rape her. When Lugo escaped her restraints and tried to save Leach, she was shot twice in the head.

In the resulting struggle between Leach and the gunman, Leach was shot in the leg. The gunman escaped in the couple's car. Lugo died from her injuries.

It was a horrifying experience, and one that only escalated for Leach, a social worker, when she became a suspected in the crime. Some detectives had apparently told reporters her rape test results were inconclusive and that the bullet wound to leg appeared to be self-inflicted, The New York Times reported in 1996. Had she murdered Lugo in a rage and shot herself to stage a crime scene? It got to the point where some of Lugo's family members publicly accused of Leach of being the killer, according to the outlet.

Tensions between police and the LGBTQ+ community, which were already simmering at this point, seemed to boil over with this case. Advocates accused the police department of not taking crimes against lesbians seriously and downplaying Lugo's case. Leach, for example, had provided a sketch of the killer, but it wasn't released to the public until a month after the murder, The Brooklyn Eagle reported. Rallies and protests were held to support Leach.

But a little over a year after Lugo's murder, the real killer was uncovered. Who was he, and how was he caught? And what happened to Leach? To answer these questions and more about the case, watch "New York Homicide," a series about the most shocking crimes to occur in NYC, premiering Saturday, January 1 at 10/9c on Oxygen. You can sign up for Oxygen Insider for more, here.

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