- Associated Press - Monday, January 10, 2011

NEW YORK (AP) — A Portuguese model was being held on charges of second-degree murder in the slaying of a celebrity Portuguese television journalist found castrated and bludgeoned to death in a New York hotel, police said Monday.

Renato Seabra, 21, of Cantanhede, Portugal, has been hospitalized since hours after the slaying Friday and was arrested in the death of 65-year-old Carlos Castro, Sgt. Carlos Nieves, a New York Police Department spokesman, said.

Mr. Castro was found dead on Friday in Room 3416 of the InterContinental New York Times Square hotel, which the two men had shared. His nude body was covered in blood on the floor, and he had been castrated. The medical examiner’s office ruled that Mr. Castro died from a combination of blunt impact head injuries and strangulation, according to spokeswoman Grace Burgess.

The death was ruled a homicide on Sunday. Mr. Seabra was detained by police early Saturday after he sought care at St. Luke’s Roosevelt Hospital, not far from the hotel. He later was transferred by authorities to Bellevue Hospital Center, where he underwent a psychiatric evaluation.

Friends in New York said Mr. Castro and Mr. Seabra were a couple, but Mr. Seabra’s mother told Portugal’s TVIndependente television network that her son “was not Carlos Castro’s lover.”

Mr. Seabra “never hid his sexuality: that he is heterosexual,” Odilia Pereirinha, his mother, said Sunday before heading to New York.

Portugal’s Lusa news agency said Monday that Portuguese officials would meet with Mr. Seabra.

It was not immediately known if Mr. Seabra had retained a lawyer.

Mr. Castro and Mr. Seabra arrived in the United States in late December to see some Broadway shows and spend New Year’s Eve in Times Square, according to a family friend.

There had been some friction between the two men toward the end of the trip, but nothing to suggest that anything horrible was about to happen, said the friend, Luis Pires, the editor of the Portuguese language newspaper Luso-Americano.

“I think that they were a little bit upset with each other, for jealousy reasons,” Mr. Pires told the Associated Press.

Mr. Seabra was a contestant last year on a Portuguese TV show called “A Procura Do Sonho,” or “Pursuit of a Dream,” which hunts for modeling talent.

He didn’t win the show but did get a modeling contract with an agency founded by fashion designer Fatima Lopes, who developed the show and was a judge on it.

The death is the second recent slaying in an upscale New York hotel room.

Swimsuit designer Sylvie Cachay, 33, who grew up in Washington’s Virginia suburbs, was found strangled and drowned in a bathtub at the trendy Soho House hotel on Dec. 9. Her boyfriend, Nicholas Brooks, has pleaded not guilty in her death.

Mr. Brooks, the 24-year-old son of “You Light Up My Life” writer and Oscar winner Joseph Brooks, has been held without bail since his arrest.

And in February last year, prosecutors say, multimillionaire Gigi Jordan killed her 8-year-old autistic boy at the posh Peninsula Hotel. Ms. Jordan has pleaded not guilty to murder. She wrote a letter saying she planned to kill herself and her son, but prosecutors have said she may have faked the suicide attempt. Her lawyer says the claim is baseless.

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