Eight years later, search continues for suspects in Queens LGBTQ activist’s murder

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Sunnyside, Queens resident and LGBTQ activist Louis Rispoli (inset) was fatally attacked at the corner of Queens Boulevard and 42nd Street on Oct. 20, 2012.
Photo via Google Maps/Inset via Gay City News

More than eight years have passed since Louis Rispoli was brutally beaten to death on a Queens street — and his killers have yet to be found.

The shocking homicide in Sunnyside, Queens early on the morning of Oct. 20, 2012 provoked outrage around the neighborhood and beyond.

A long-time gay rights activist, Rispoli lived with his husband, pianist Danyal Lawson, in the community for more than 30 years and had been active in causes to advance the LGBTQ community. He also campaigned for City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer, one of the first openly gay men to serve in the city’s legislature.

In a Gay City News interview back in 2013, Lawson remembered Rispoli as a “man of many passions — not one thing,” but that his late husband’s life was dedicated to service.

“His purpose in life was to care for others,” Lawson told Gay City News. “When he was there, you felt everything was taken care of. He left a big hole in a lot of people’s hearts.”

But Rispoli’s life was tragically cut short when he was attacked while out for a walk at about 2:16 a.m. on Oct. 20, 2012 near the intersection of Queens Boulevard and 42nd Street.

Law enforcement sources said two men approached and then engaged Rispoli in a conversation. Within moments, the pair went on the attack, with one of the suspects striking the victim in the head with an unidentified blunt object in front of a nearby apartment building.

Following the attack, cops said, the two men were seen fleeing inside a car.

Moments later, officers from the 108th Precinct found Rispoli on the ground, unconscious and unresponsive, with blunt force trauma to his skull. Paramedics rushed him to Elmhurst Hospital, where he died five days later.

Following the attack, the NYPD, Crime Stoppers and the Mayor’s office offered a combined $22,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the suspects. Eight years later, that reward has gone unclaimed.

On Nov. 25, the NYPD re-released sketches of the two suspects. The first suspect is described as a white man in his 20s, and his accomplice was a Hispanic man in his 30s.

Anyone with information regarding Rispoli’s death or the suspects’ whereabouts can call Crime Stoppers at 800-577-TIPS (for Spanish, dial 888-57-PISTA). You can also submit tips online at nypdcrimestoppers.com, or on Twitter @NYPDTips. All calls and messages are kept confidential.