A 16-year-old boy is facing second-degree murder charges after allegedly stabbing to death a 32-year-old transgender woman in Wichita, Kansas on Sunday, reports Wichita news station KAKE.
Police identified the victim using male pronouns and the name Tyreece Walker, though friends and family of the deceased told police that Walker identified as a transgender woman.
Officers were called to investigate a reported disturbance at an apartment complex in southwest Wichita, near Wildwood Park, at 9:50 p.m. on Sunday. Police found Walker’s body inside the apartment, dead of apparent knife wounds.
Sgt. Nikki Woodrow with the Wichita Police Department confirmed Walker’s death in a phone call with The Advocate. Woodrow also confirmed that Walker identified as a transgender woman who was known to friends and family as “Reecey,” and said the victim used male pronouns.
No potential motive for the killing has yet been announced, but police are investigating allegations made by the suspect’s family that Walker attempted to sexually assault the teen, Woodrow said. Asked if police were considering the possibility that Walker’s death was a hate crime, Woodrow said “absolutely not,” adding that there is no indication that the killing was motivated by bias.
The suspect, whose name has not been released due to his age, is due in court today or tomorrow, Woodrow said. She expects the teen to be charged as a juvenile.
A woman who identified herself to KAKE as a friend of Walker's rejected the allegation that Walker had attempted to assault the teen, saying such a claim was "completely 100-percent out of character for Reece."
“[She] wanted to get a degree in psychology or social work to try to become a counselor to help other people try to get through some of the same struggles [she] had been through," the friend, identified only as Victoria, told the local news station. She added that Walker worked at the front office for the apartment complex where she lived, and where she was found dead.
"She said a lot of people at the apartment complex or even around Wichita were constantly harassing her and just messing with her including leaving stuff by her front door," Victoria told KAKE. “When I left on Wednesday, she was super excited happy and hopping around and very, very positive. To wake up this morning and know that that was taken from her is the worst news I could have possibly got."
Social media posts made by those claiming to know Walker generally refer to the 32-year-old using male pronouns, sometimes calling the victim “TJ,” and fondly describe Walker as someone who “kept us laughing all the time.”
A GoFundMe page allegedly set up by friends to help Walker's family with funeral costs recalls that "Reese, 'like the candy,' as she introduced herself, was a loving, playful spirit who only wanted the best for others. She would have given her last piece of bread to make sure someone else was not hungry."
Walker is at least the tenth known transgender person killed in the U.S. this year alone. Almost all the victims have been trans people of color, and the majority of those killed have been black transgender people, like Walker. In April, Shante Issac and her friend Willie Sims were brutally murdered in Houston. Police have yet to arrest any suspects in the double homicide. Just days later, Keyonna Blakeney, a 22-year-old black transgender woman, was found dead in Rockville, Maryland, on April 16. Police have ruled her death, caused by blunt force trauma to her upper body, a homicide.
A month earlier, a transgender woman named Quartney Davia Dawsonn-Yoachum was killed in what police believe was a domestic dispute on Los Angeles's "Skid Row," while Jasmine Sierra was found dead in January in Bakersfield, Calif. In February, 30-year-old Louisiana trans man Demarkis Stansberry was shot to death, the same month that police shot and killed 24-year-old Arizona trans man Kayden Clarke in his own home. In the span of 24 hours in late February, Philadelphia police discovered the bodies of two transgender women, including 25-year-old Maya Young and Veronica Banks Cano. Texas trans woman Monica Loera was the first known trans person killed in the U.S. this year, shot to death in her own home on January 22.