Conn. (WTNH) — This week in Connecticut history: a confession in a brutal murder that changed gay rights in the state.

June 3, 1988

A gruesome confession came from 16-year-old Marcos Perez of Hartford, saying he and his friend — 17-year-old Sean Burke — hunted down and killed a gay man.

A few weeks earlier, the two met 33-year-old insurance analyst Richard Reihl at a Hartford gay bar. They followed him back to his Wethersfield condo, duct-taped his mouth and hands, and beat him to death with a fireplace log.

Prosecutors called it “gay bashing.”

We went to that Hartford bar and the customers we talked to were afraid to show their faces.

“I feel that its tragic and its not understandable that people are intolerant,” one customer said. 

The viciousness of Reihl’s murder galvanized and energized the gay rights movement in Connecticut. They showed their faces, and fought back.

The year after the convictions, Connecticut passed its first hate crime law. It was the first time “sexual orientation” appeared in Connecticut law.