The 21 Trans Women Killed in 2015

The 21 Trans Women Killed in 2015

Transgender advocates have, for years, been calling for an end to what they label the "epidemic" of transphobic violence. And while every November 20, the community and its allies remember those lives lost on the international Transgender Day of Remembrance, 2015 was a particularly deadly year for transgender women in the United States. In the first seven weeks of the year, seven trans women were killed in the U.S.

In all, 21 transgender women were murdered in 2015 alone, most of them women of color — with one additional victim whose gender identity has been disputed in press reports and among family members and activists. That exceeds the number of transgender women killed in the U.S. in all of 2014, though neither of these totals account for individuals whose deaths were not reported or investigated, nor for victims who were misgendered or not regarded as trans women in death. 

Read on to learn more about the women whose lives were taken due to transphobic bias and violence. 

Dawn Ennis contributed to these reports. 

05 Papi 0

Lamar "Papi" Edwards, 20, was shot to death outside a hotel in Louisville, Ky., January 9. Two days after Edwards's death, Louisville Metro Police arrested 20-year-old Henry Richard Gleaves in connection with the crime, and have charged him with murder. At his January 13 arraignment, Gleaves pleaded not guilty. 

Edwards's identity remains subject to contradicting reports that alternately identified him as a gay man and as a trans woman. While The Advocate initially reported the crime as a possible anti-transgender homicide, a friend of the victim told this publication that Edwards identified as a gay man and likely participated in drag; the first photo released to media of the victim wearing a women's wig may have contributed to the belief that he identified as trans.

However, BuzzFeed News reporter Dominic Holden launched an in-depth investigation that appears to indicate Edwards did identify as a transgender woman, and was presenting as a woman when they were killed. Although police are not treating the murder as a hate crime, Edwards's friends stressed to BuzzFeed that their friend was shot to death after the suspect became upset about the fact that Edwards was transgender.

03 Lamia 0

Lamia Beard, a 30-year-old transgender woman of color, died at a hospital after being shot in the early morning hours of January 17. When police in Norfolk, Va., responded to a 911 call at 4 a.m. that day, they found Beard on a sidewalk suffering from a gunshot wound.

Beard's death may be related to a second shooting that occured nearby at 6:30 a.m. in which the victim, identified by officials as male, suffered a nonfatal gunshot wound, reports The Virginian-Pilot, a Norfolk newspaper. Police are still investigating both cases.

Area residents held an antiviolence march through Norfolk at noon the day of the shootings, reports local TV station WAVY. Community leaders told reporters the gathering drew attention to systemic social issues, like poverty, of which violence is a "symptom," and was especially important the weekend before Martin Luther King Jr. Day was celebrated nationwide.

"It's about sending a message to the city that our lives matter," explained Damien Jenkins, a march organizer. It is unclear whether Beard was recognized as a trans woman during the march.

03 TransDeaths 2015 0

Ty Underwood, a 24-year-old transgender woman of color, was fatally shot in the early morning hours of January 26 in Tyler, Texas. Police found Underwood when responding to a 911 call from a woman who said her children had heard gunshots and that a car had run into a telephone pole nearby. Detective Andy Erbaugh told reporters he believes that Underwood was near or inside the car when shots were fired at it; Underwood was likely struck while she was trying to drive away.

Carlton Ray Champion Jr., 21, was convicted December 17 and sentenced to life in prison December 18, after electronic and video evidence revealed that he was meeting Underwood for a date at the time she was killed. Police say that Champion, a football player at Texas College, and Underwood, a nursing assistant planning to attend Kilgore College's nursing program, had been in a "brief relationship" prior to Underwood's death. Champion was originally detained on January 29 for a probation violation while officials continued to investigate his suspected connection to Underwood's murder.

Champion became a suspect after tips from Underwood's friends led police to identify him as the man she'd been dating for several weeks prior to her death, notes an affadavit filed in support of an arrest warrant for Champion obtained by local TV station KYTX. Police confirmed his and Underwood's relationship through communications on Champion's cell phone and tablet that dated back to January 19. 

While many of Underwood's friends and supporters say they believe her murder was a hate crime, officials did not investigate it as such. "She was lovely, just a lovely person. Very real, down-to-earth person who didn't deserve this, did not deserve this at all," Underwood's roommate Coy Simmons told TV station KYTX. "This has to be a hate crime, this has to be a hate crime, nothing else because that was an upstanding person with a good heart."

02 Yazmin 0

Yazmin Vash Payne was 33 years old was found shortly after 5 a.m. on January 31 in her Los Angeles apartment's kitchen, dead of multiple stab wounds, as firefighters were responding to reports of a fire in a rear bedroom. Police say neighbors heard Payne arguing late into the night with her boyfriend, with whom she had recently moved into the building, and the fire started soon afterward. 

Three days later, that boyfriend, Ezekiel Dear, 25, confessed to murdering Payne, turning himself in to police, accompanied by a pastor as he walked into the 77th Police Precinct. 

Protesters gathered to mourn Payne's death denounced the ongoing crisis at a candlelight vigil and march held February 1 outside Payne's apartment building. Her death also marked the third reported murder of a trans woman of color in Los Angeles within four months. Deshawnda Sanchez, 21, died of a gunshot wound December 3, 2014, and 47-year-old Aniya Parker was fatally shot October 2, 2014, both in suspected robberies.

"They’re killing us and nobody seems to care," trans advocate Bamby Salcedo told Los Angeles TV station KCBS at the time. "This is not an isolated incident. And it’s important that the LAPD continues to do what they’re supposed to do."

05 TransDeaths 2015 0

Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, a 36-year-old trans woman of color, was found fatally stabbed multiple times in a stairwell the morning of February 1 in San Francisco's Bayview District. Five days after officials discovered the Latina woman's body, police told the San Francisco Weekly they had found her suspected assailant, 49-year-old James Hayes, dead in an apparent suicide. His body was discovered behind a warehouse a half-mile from where DeJesus's body was found.

In the San Francisco Chronicle, DeJesus's mother, Pamela DeJesus of San Jose, remembered her as "beautiful inside and out," often giving away anything "extra" she had to those who needed it. DeJesus recounted how spirited and independent her daughter Taja was, having gotten her first job at age 15, raising enough money to buy a stereo to play the music she was passionate about, and traveling often to San Francisco until she was able to permanently move to Bayview, where she felt her identity was more tolerated than in her hometown.

Taja DeJesus was an active member of a Bayview church, a food pantry volunteer, and a volunteer with Trans Thrive, where, program manager Nikki Calma told the Chronicle, "She was very vocal about issues in the trans community, especially when it came to health and disparity. She was well known and will definitely be missed."

Anyone with information about DeJesus's murder is asked to contact the San Francisco Police Department at (415) 575-4444.

01 TransDeaths 2015 0

Bri Golec, a 22-year-old living in Akron, Ohio, was just beginning to explore a transgender identity when stabbed to death by their father February 13.

Kevin Golec, 52, has been charged with murder and felony domestic violence. Police detained him shortly after 10 p.m. Friday after responding to several calls to 911 he made alleging that several members of a "cult" had broken into his house to commit robbery and had attacked both him and Bri Golec. With no evidence of a robbery, however, police determined that Golec was lying and that it was he who had had an altercation with and fatally stabbed his child.

Several advocates believe that Kevin Golec's statement about a nonexistent cult may be a reference to a trans support group Bri Golec had allegedly begun attending again, notes Pennsylvania LGBT blog Pittsburgh Lesbian Correspondent.

Reports have conflicted on whether Bri Golec identified as trans, but the Correspondent, the first site to report Golec's death as the murder of a trans woman, noted that Golec  had "recently ... began to more assertively explore her gender identity." Local trans activist Jacob Nash confirmed to the news site that Golec was involved in the local trans community and local group Trans Ohio has sent out a message stating that Golec was a trans woman.

Alternately, others who claim to have known the victim have stated on social media that Golec did not identify as trans, notes Gay Star News. Local media, including Cleveland's Plain Dealer, meanwhile identified Golec as male, as has Golec's public obituary, which advocates decried as misgendering.

Trans Deaths 633

In the early morning hours of March 7, Keyshia Blige, a 33-year-old transgender woman, was driving a friend in her car through Aurora, Illinois, "when several shots were fired," reports U.K. newspaper The Guardianthe first media outlet to report Blige's identity as a trans woman in late August

One shot hit Blige in the shoulder, and though she attempted to drive herself to the hospital, she eventually lost control of the vehicle and crashed into a Jeep, according to a March Chicago Tribune report that identified the victim as "a man" and by her male name. 

Blige was pronounced dead on arrival at an Aurora hospital at 2:58 a.m. on March 7, reports the Tribune. subsequent report in the Tribune did mention that Blige was "transitioning" and had recently begun hormone therapy, though the paper continued to use male pronouns and Blige's given (male) name. 

Blige was misgendered by police and media reports that relied upon her state-issued identification, notes The Guardian, though a friend of the victim contacted the U.K. paper to confirm Blige's identity as a trans woman. 

That friend, Sasha Love, told The Guardian that Blige had begun pursuing her physical transition shortly before she was killed, and was "the happiest I had ever seen her once she started transitioning.” 

In March, Aurora police told the Tribune that the shooting was "not considered random," but declined to release a motive. When contacted by The Guardian, Dan Ferrelli, media relations manager for the Aurora Police Department, said "It's definitely not a hate crime."

"But we have some theories we are looking into," added Ferrelli. 

08 TransDeaths 2015 0

London Chanel, a 21-year-old black trans woman, was found shortly after midnight May 18 in front of an abandoned north Philadelphia house, deceased from two stab wounds to her back and one to the neck, reports Philadelphia NBC affiliate WCAU.

The fatal altercation began with a verbal fight between Chanel and a 31-year-old man inside the house, according to a witness statement to police. After stabbing Chanel, the man, whose name has not been released, and the witness reportedly carried Chanel's body outside the house, placed her on quilts, and began attempting to perform CPR. When the pair saw a School District of Philadelphia officer, they flagged him down, and he called Philadelphia police. Rushed to a hospital, Chanel was declared dead on arrival.

Both the assailant and the witness were taken into custody but do not currently face charges, according to WCAU. The alleged assailant had a pocketknife, believed to be the murder weapon, on him when he was apprehended.

Chanel, like many trans female victims of violence, was originally identified as a "man" in police reports, and accordingly reported by the local news station as such. Nellie Fitzpatrick, the director of the Mayor's Office of LGBT Affairs for the City of Philadelphia, told BuzzFeed News that she heard an "immediate outcry" from community members over the misgendering. She called the local station, which apologized for the error and updated its story to indicate that Chanel was a woman.

Meanwhile, Chanel is being rememebered fondly by members of Philadelphia's trans community. "She had a heart of gold," Chanel's friend Kione Seymore told WCAU. "She hardly ever frowned. She always had a smile on her face. Her laughter was infectious. ... We are trans sisters. We shared a bond no one can understand."

Aileen Brown-Henry, another friend who Chanel had helped out of homelessness, said, "She was my heart and soul. She saved me a lot. She was my only friend."

Chanel's mother, Veronica Allen, who had had a strained relationship with her daughter since Chanel began transitioning, said she and Chanel had recently reconnected. "She was going to go to court and change her name and then she was going to come home," Allen told the station. "That's what we were working towards, but that man took it away from me."

09 TransDeaths 2015 0

Mercedes Williamson went missing May 30 and was found two days later buried in a field behind her murderer's father's house. In early June, police from George County, Miss., unearthed the 17-year-old's body, buried on May 30 in Rocky Creek, Ala., after she was reportedly stabbed to death. 

A day after the murder, 28-year-old Josh Brandon Vallum told his father, Bobby Vallum, that he had killed a person and buried their body in the wooded field behind his father's Rocky Creek home, according to police records. Bobby Vallum reported the confession to police, who found a partially decomposed body hidden under debris on the property at 9 a.m. on June 2. 

Mississippi's Sun Herald newspaper reports that Josh Vallum is a longtime member of the Latin Kings street gang. He has been charged with murder and is being held at George County jail on $1 million bond. Hate-crime charges have not been filed in the case, and police have not revealed a motive. It remains unclear whether Williamson's murder was related to Vallum's gang activity. 

Williamson was misgendered by local Alabama media until the Sun Herald sent reporters to the neighboring state to learn more about her life as a transgender woman.

The Sun Herald found that Williamson, an aspiring cosmetologist who enjoyed spending time outdoors, appeared to be estranged from her Mississippi birth family, as she had moved alone from Alabama's Gulf Shores to the town of Theodore, to live in a trailer with 41-year-old friend Jeanie Miller. Williamson had been sleeping on the couch in the one-bedroom trailer's front room since September.

Miller told the Sun Herald she last saw the trans teen, who Miller said she loved like a "daughter," when she left their trailer around 2 p.m. the day she was murdered, saying she was going to spend time at "the bay" in Gulf Shores. Williamson was supposed to be picked up by a friend, but a witness said she departed in an unknown silver vehicle.

After Williamson did not return home for several days, Miller says she called the friend who she thought had picked Williamson up. The girl informed her Williamson was dead.

"I couldn't believe it," Miller told the newspaper through tears in the video interview below. "I don't want to hear. I miss how she flipped her hair. I miss the crooked teeth with that beautiful smile. ... I can smell her. I just keep wanting her to walk through that door. ... I'll never have nobody like her again. That is barely something that crosses people's lives anyway. She is the most beautiful person."

JASMINE COLLINS 0

Jasmine Collins, 32, was murdered in June, though her identity as a trans woman was not reported until late August. Media reports say she was stabbed to death following an argument over shoes.

Sgt. Kari Thompson confirmed for The Advocate details first reported by The Guardian, a U.K. newspaper. A woman named Tia Townsel, 33, has been charged with second-degree murder.

Collins, who police at first identified by her male name because of the state-issued identification she was carrying, was stabbed June 23 in a neighborhood north of downtown known as “The Bottoms." Kansas City TV station KCMO reported it was the second deadly stabbing at the Holiday Apartments in as many months.

Both KCMO and KCTV referred to Collins as a man based on documents from police:

“Court documents state Collins went to see Townsel for a haircut when the two began arguing over a pair of Vans shoes. Witnesses say the physical altercation started in the apartment and continued out in the parking lot.

“According to police, Collins hit Townsel over the head with a bottle of vodka. Townsel then retrieved the knife from her apartment that she used to stab the victim. Police records say that when Collin (sic) continued to yell at her, Townsel stabbed [her] and left [her] lying in the grass.

“One witness says Collins asked her for help and when she attempted to perform CPR, Townsel threatened her. The witness returned to her apartment to call authorities.”

14 0

Equality Michigan reports that Ashton O’Hara, murdered in Detroit in July, was a transgender woman, although still using male pronouns. The group learned of O’Hara’s death last week in the wake of the murder of another Detroit trans woman, Amber Monroe; no news media had reported on O’Hara’s killing.

The Detroit Police Department has arrested Larry B. Gaulding in connection to O'Hara's death, according to Equality Michigan. He is in custody and will be tried on a first-degree murder charge beginning September 24.

“For the third time in less than seven days, we have had to report on violence against a trans person of color in our community,” said a statement from Yvonne Siferd, Equality Michigan’s director of victim services, referring also to a nonfatal shooting of a trans woman. “I cannot begin to express the outrage and sadness that we are experiencing. I am so grateful, that through this grief, I have had the pleasure of talking with Ashton’s mom [Rebecca O’Hara] about who he was, how he lived, and how he loved. Out of respect for Rebecca, we ask that all inquiries be focused on Ashton’s life, rather than on the gruesome details of his murder.”

10 TransDeaths 2015 0
India Clarke, a 25-year-old black transgender woman, was found beaten to death July 2, outside Tampa, Fla.'s University Area Community Center. A park employee called police after discovering Clarke's body just before 9 a.m. near the basketball courts. She died of blunt force trauma to the upper body.

Family told the local media they had last seen her just two days earlier, spending time with her nephews. The young woman's mother, Thelma Clarke, fondly remembered her daughter to Tampa Bay area TV station WTSP as "a good-hearted person, a very loving person" who enjoyed laughing and making others smile. She was studying to be a cosmetologist.

"[Her] last words when [she] headed out the door were, "Mom, I love you, Dad, I love you. And we both said, 'We love you too," Thelma Clarke recalled. 

As is sadly often the case, local media have gone against journalistic best practices in covering Clarke's death, using her birth name and male pronouns, referring to her as a "man in a dress," and bringing up prior arrests that did not lead to convictions in their reports. The Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office indicated that they would be tracing Clarke's previous alleged criminal activity to see if it is related to her death. 

Sheriff's deputies are currently searching for leads, and local commmunity organization Crime Stoppers is offering up to $3,000 for information that leads to the arrest of a suspect or suspects. Officials have not indicated whether Clarke's murder will be considered a hate crime, but the victim's father, Samuel L. Clarke, told Tampa Bay's BHTV that his family has considered it might be and hopes it was was not.

"The Lord made us this way," he told reporters. "It's a shame that we could lose the life because of who we are."

Anyone with information related to case is asked to contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-TIPS (8477), report a tip anonymously online at this website, or send a mobile tip using the TipSubmit Mobile application. They are also asked to call the Hillsborough County Sheriff's Office at 813-247-8200.

01 Haggard 0

K.C. Haggard, a 66-year-old transgender woman, was fatally stabbed in the early morning hours of July 23. The former security guard was walking down the streets of Fresno, Calif., just before 2 a.m., when a light-colored Saturn SUV pulled up to the curb, and a passenger called to her. According to graphic video of the attack captured by a tattoo shop across the street, the passenger in the car speaks to Haggard for less than one minute before striking with a knife, slashing the woman's throat. The car then sped away, as Haggard reportedly remained bleeding on the street for 20 minutes before a passerby called paramedics. She was pronounced dead at the hospital.

While little is known about Haggard at this point, both of her two Facebook profiles (the second opened after she stopped posting to the first) indicates that she was retired and a graduate of Chapman University. The more recently updated profile — which was kept under her male birth name and pronouns — also includes a four-month-old post in which Haggard refers to herself as "K.c." In it, she gives Rep's Sports Bar, located on Blackstone Avenue, the same street on which she died, a five-star review. Haggard asks in the post for her friends — "all TG [transgender] girls" — to come "hangout." She had three other Facebook profiles under "K.c. Haggard" that used female pronouns.

Police are investigating Haggard's death as a homicide, but local trans advocates say it was a hate crime. Karen Adell Scot, executive director of TransCare, told local TV station KSFN she believes the killing was hate-motivated because it did not appear to be an attempted robbery. ""There was no purse taken, they didn't even try to take it," Scot explained.

Anyone with information surrounding the attack is asked to contact Fresno Police homicide detective Alfonso Castillo at (559) 621-2449 or Leonard Cabrera at (559) 621-2451. Anonymous tips can also be given to Crime Stoppers at (559) 498-STOP.

Shade Schuler Trans Deaths 633 0

The badly decomposed body of Shade Schuler, 22, was found in a vacant field in Dallas in late July, and it took police two weeks to positively identify her remains. The African-American transgender woman had been shot to death on July 29, and was the 13th trans murder victim identified in 2015. 

Schuler's murder raised the toll of reported trans murders past the total for all of 2014.

"Our hearts are saddened by the loss of Shade Schuler, a Dallas transgender woman whose life was taken too soon," Cece Cox, CEO of the Dallas’ LGBT community center, said in a statement to the website Lone Star Q. "Our sincere condolences go out to her family and friends. For transgender women, safety is a real and warranted concern... We encourage the Dallas Police Department to investigate and seek out the killer."

Trans Pride Initiative’s Nell Gaither confirmed for the news media and police that Schuler was transgender.

"Several of us spent time verifying she was trans and trying to learn more this afternoon and evening," Gaither wrote on Facebook on August 12, after speaking with police. "Her name was Ms. Shade, and she was only 22 years old. … Our hearts and thoughts are with her family and friends who now must confront this unfortunate taking of life. May we find space in our hearts to celebrate her time with us and the lives she touched. May we find inspiration in this loss to work together, trans and cis alike, to end the violence that has taken so many of our trans siblings from us far too soon."

Gaither also took the extra step of contacting the Dallas Morning News to point out the newspaper's repeated misgendering of Schuler. "I would like to ask if you could at least not identify her as 'a man' in the articles," Gaither wrote. "'A person' would be better." The newspaper updated its story online to remove references to Schuler as a man following Gaither's outreach.

Lexie Cannes, writing for the blog State of Trans, pointed to the intersection of this growing spate of violence against transgender women of color and the racial tensions that have gripped the nation in recent months. Most of the victims this year have been black transgender women.

"No kind of spinning is going to rid us of the elephant in the room — [transgender women of color's] lives are being snuffed out at a disproportionate rate," Cannes wrote. "Cause: Hatred AND racism. If it was just hatred, white people would be leading the death tally here in the United States. If there ever was a compelling case that racism still exists in the U.S., this is it."

Anyone with information about the crime is urged to call the Dallas Police Homicide Unit at 214-671-3650 or Crime Stoppers at 214-373-8477.

11 TransDeaths 2015 0

Amber Monroe, 20, of Detroit, was a student at Michigan's Wayne State University. Although local activists reported her name, that she was trans, and that she was fatally shot to the news media, Detroit police would only confirm the circumstances and not the victim’s name to The Advocate. Because her legal identification listed her as male, she was identified by police not as a transgender woman but as a black man, denying what friends say was her authentic gender identity.

“[Monroe] was observed leaving a vehicle when someone inside fired a shot, fatally wounding the victim,” said Officer Nicole Kirkwood, a spokeswoman for the Detroit Police Department. Monroe died at a local hospital.

Kirkwood tells The Advocate detectives are investigating the murder, which occurred at 5:05 a.m. on August 8, on Woodward Avenue on Detroit’s west side, a “red light district” that local activists and news media say is known as an area for sex work by trans women. That same area is where police investigated three hate crimes against trans women one year ago, including a murder, according to Detroit’s WXYZ-TV.

A friend, Julisa Abad, told another TV station, WJBK, that this was not Monroe’s first brush with violence, and in fact she had been attacked before: “She’s been shot two or three times. But this time she didn’t make it.”

LGBT advocacy group Equality Michigan issued a statement announcing Monroe’s murder:

“Our hearts are heavy with grief that we have lost another vibrant member of our community too soon. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all of Amber’s family and friends whom she clearly loved deeply.

"We have no idea yet whether this attack was fueled by transphobia, but we do know that Amber’s murder is the 12th murder of a transgender woman in the United States this year, and the 10th murder of a transgender woman of color. Transgender women, and especially transgender women of color, are disproportionately affected by violence.

"Her life was just beginning; I know that this loss will leave so many people with a hole in their lives and with more questions than answers. Let’s come together to celebrate her life, and work for real change so that our transgender sisters can be free from persecution. I know we can do better. We have to do better.”

Studies have shown that trans people of color, both men and women, experience disproportionately high levels of violence, although it is significantly higher for all trans women. As The Advocate reported in June, the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs found 72 percent of anti-LGBTQ homicide victims are trans women and 67 per cent are trans women of color.

In memory of Monroe, Laverne Cox posted her photo on her Instagram account, along with a heart emoticon and an image of an angel. 

@Regrann from @chernobiko - Heart BREAKING News; the 12th Trans Woman of Color to be lynched this year was found this morning in Detroit MI. This murder is so tragic because she was barely 20 years old; a far cry from 66 year old #KCHaggard who was lynched in California last week. #SayHerName #AmberMonroe #BlackLivesMatter #BlackTransLivesMatter #GirlsLikeUs #FolksLikeUs #RedefiningRealness #TransIsBeautiful #CaitlynJenner #TransGriot #Regrann

A photo posted by laverne cox (@lavernecox) on 

She added several hashtags, including #CaitlynJenner and others used by activists to highlight the deaths of women of color, #BlackTransLivesMatter and #SayHerName.

Detroit police emailed The Advocate, in response to our request for clarification of the department's policy for identifying transgender victims of crime. "Our policy states that we treat all victims equally and investigate all cases of violence as we normally do regardless of gender, appearance, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression," Sgt. Cassandra Lewis wrote. "However, we must legally identify all persons based on what is stated on their state issued identification." 

Lewis also outlined what Detroit police are doing to address deadly hate crimes like this. "We are conducting a LGBT Community Chat in an effort to get citizens in the LGBT community the opportunity to come out and speak with the Police Chief and other law enforcement partners about the violence that is committed against them.  This is a way for the community and the police department to work together to bring about positive change."  

Anyone with information about Monroe's murder should contact the Homicide section of the Detroit Police Department at 313-596-2260 or 1-800-SPEAKUP. 

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In Arizona, it has been confirmed that Kandis Capri, shot to death outside a Phoenix apartment complex on August 11, identified as transgender. Local media did not cover the story at first, but London newspaper The Guardian interviewed Capri’s family and reported that she was indeed transgender.

No arrest has been reported in the case. Capri’s purse and phone were missing, but Capri’s family was not discounting the possibility that her murder was a hate crime.

Friends and family held a candlelight vigil to honor Capri at the Downtown Phoenix Civic Space.

16 0

A body found in Johnston County, N.C., has been identified as that of Elisha Walker, 20, who had been reported missing by her family last fall, reports Charlotte TV station WSOC. Police found Walker’s remains buried behind a house near the town of Smithfield in Johnston County, after having found her car burned and abandoned in a field in another county.

The car led them to Angel Arias, 23, a member of the Latin Kings gang. He has been charged with murder and felony vehicle theft, and was jailed in Johnston County without bond as he awaited transport to Rowan County, where Walker had lived, the station reports. Police have not cited a motive in the killing but say Walker apparently died of blunt force trauma.

17 Trans Deaths 633 3

Tamara Dominguez of Kansas City, Mo., was the victim of a brutal killing that police have not labeled a hate crime. 

Dominguez, 36, was seen by witnesses stepping out of a black Chevrolet Avalanche SUV on Saturday, August 15 at 3 a.m., according to Kansas City TV station KCTV.  Police told the station the male driver then struck her with the vehicle repeatedly.

Authorities, who at first classified this as an aggravated assault, are investigating the case as a homicide — claiming it is too early in the investigation to confirm whether the attack was a hate crime. Although police identified Dominguez as male, based on her legal identification, Sgt. Kari Thompson of the Kansas City Police Department emailed The Advocate the official report, which included her chosen name.

Dominguez's roommate, Juan Rendon, translated a message of forgiveness from her Spanish-speaking brother, Alberto, who was in tears.

"He just wants to say to the person that did that to her, that he would forgive them for what he did to her, and he hopes that he can forget what he did," Rendon told KSBH on behalf of Alberto. "We are not here to judge nobody, and he hopes that person really feels bad for what her did." 

“I don’t think it’s fair somebody dies like this no matter what the problem was, what happened," Rendon added on his own behalf. "Nobody has the right to kill someone."

Friends and family laid flowers at the scene of the crime, near the parking lot of a church, in her memory. 

Family members told KCTV they didn't know who Dominguez may have been with in the Avalanche, and that the vehicle wasn 't familiar. Police are searching for clues to the identity of the driver and the SUV.

Anyone with information about the Dominguez case is asked to call the KCPD's TIPS hotline at 816-474-TIPS (8477).

Kiesha Jenkins

Kiesha Jenkins was a 22-year old Philadelphia native, who attended West Philadelphia High School and Temple University, according to Philadelphia Gay News.

Philadelphia TV station WCAU reports that on October 6, Jenkins was beaten by five to six males, and shot in the back twice by one of the assailants after she fell to the ground beside her vehicle in North Philadelphia. 

Although no motive is known at this time, investigators are considering the possibility that Jenkins’s transgender identity played a role in the attack.

“The victim’s gender is definitely something that investigators are looking into," Officer Tanya Little, a spokesperson for the Philadelphia Police Department's Office of Public Affairs, told The Advocate, "and we will consider her identity under the umbrella of all motives. We are canvasing the area where the homicide occurred for witnesses and investigators hope to examine available surveillance videos.”

If you have any information on the shooting, please call Philadelphia Police at 215-686-3334.

Zella Ziona

Police in suburban Washington, D.C. are investigating the murder of 21-year-old Zella Ziona, a transgender woman who they said was found fatally wounded in an alley near a parking lot between two Montgomery County, Md., shopping centers on October 15.

A witness claimed to have seen Ziona surrounded by four or five teenagers. He says he saw them argue, then one of the teens pulled out a gun and shot Ziona in the head. He said he heard the gunman fire four or five rounds.

”They argued and things happened so fast. I don't know what they argued for," the witness told Washington, D.C. TV station WJLA.

Police at first identified Ziona as a male and by her birth name, but corrected that report after speaking to her friends and family. 

“This is a horrific crime and a tragedy for those who knew Zella,” Gaithersburg police Chief J. Thomas Manger said. “As with all homicides in Montgomery County, we have detectives working around the clock to thoroughly and completely investigate this murder.”

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