LGBT community mourns killing of Drew Nesbitt in Madison

Louis Weisberg, Staff writer

Wisconsin’s LGBT community is mourning the loss of Drew Nesbitt, 46, a popular gay man who was killed on his birthday, March 27.

Nesbitt died as “the result of homicidal sharp force injuries,” according to a statement from the Madison Medical Examiner’s office.

Nesbitt’s roommate, who was not identified by police, discovered the body in their downtown Madison apartment after returning home from out of town, according to a police report. Police also said there was no evidence of forced entry into the apartment.

On March 28, police arrested an unnamed “person of interest in the case” on charges unrelated to the homicide. He’s currently being held at the Dane County Jail.

Meanwhile, officers continue to search for the owner of a blue Trek bicycle that could be related to the killing, Madison police said March 29.

Nesbitt left behind many friends.

“My stomach is in knots, mind racing, tears falling, the thoughts won’t stop coming of all the memories we have made thru the years of over half our lives,” wrote Cass Marie, a popular Madison entertainer and emcee, on Facebook.

“We hold his friends and families close in our hearts as they grieve the loss of Drew, who was such a dear, loving, and sweet person,” said Kathy Flores, LGBTQ Statewide Anti-Violence Coordinator for Diverse & Resilient.

The attack that ended his life was not Nesbitt’s first. He survived a brutal assault in Oshkosh in 2011. It was in the aftermath of that assault that Flores first met Nesbitt through her role as an advocate for LGBTQ victims of violence in the Fox Valley.

“He suffered a beating from two men who left him so injured he required emergency surgery to reduce swelling in his brain,” Flores wrote in a statement. “Drew worked diligently over the years to recover physically and emotionally and recently relocated to Madison. After that attack in 2011, Drew worked with me to help tell his story in order to help keep others safe.  I was heartbroken to learn that he suffered another violent attack and died as a result of that attack.”

According to Madison news reports, Nesbitt spent his final hours celebrating his birthday at Five Night Club. According to WKOW, detectives were at the bar March 29 questioning staff and reviewing the business’ surveillance video.

The National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs recorded 24 reported hate-related homicides of LGBTQ people in in 2015, a 20 percent increase from 2014, according to Diverse and Resilient.

It is not known at this time whether hate played a role in Nesbitt’s killing.