A gay senior's home was set on fire after he was murdered at the hands of a male escort he met on the Internet.

Alejandro Hernandez Rivera, 23, of Vallejo, California pleaded not guilty last week to the murder of Theodore Neff, 66, a retired gay man, reports the San Francisco-based Bay Area Reporter.

Neff and Rivera met through an ad listed in the adult services category of the classifieds website Craigslist. Friends say they believe the relationship began in July 2008.

On December 3, authorities say the two men got into an argument that turned violent, and Rivera allegedly strangled Neff.

Afterwards, the escort returned to the Bay Point townhouse to retrieve several items including a gold-plated Nagahara flute worth $23,000 and set the house on fire.

Firefighters who were called to the two-alarm fire at 10PM retrieved Neff's body but said he was already dead. An autopsy revealed Neff died from strangulation.

Police investigators say they caught up with Rivera when he attempted to sell the Nagahara flute to dealers in New York and Boston. Several of Neff's flutes were found in Rivera's possession.

Dan Ashbrook, executive director of Lavender Seniors of the East Bay, emphasized that seniors need companionship too. He told the paper: “Just because you're a senior doesn't mean you should be excluded from the [online dating] technology. Do it with a lot of caution.”

Rivera is currently being held on a $1.3 million bond and is scheduled to appear at a February 3 Contra Costa County Superior Court hearing.