Miami transgender performer and activist Yunieski Carey Herrera, also known as Yuni Carey, was stabbed to death in her condo Tuesday, and her partner has been charged with second-degree murder.
Carey, 39, was well known as a salsa dancer, model, and frequent contestant — and winner — in beauty pageants, and she was a beloved figure in Miami’s LGBTQ+ community as well as in Los Angeles and elsewhere. She is now the 37th transgender person known to have died by violence in the U.S. this year, and her death came during Transgender Awareness Week and three days before the Transgender Day of Remembrance.
Her partner, Ygor Arrudasouza, called police at 4:25 a.m. Tuesday and said he had stabbed her, Miami TV station WPLG reports. Emergency responders arrived a few minutes later and pronounced Carey dead.
Arrudasouza, described in some reports as Carey’s husband, told police he and Carey had argued and that she told him she had found “a better man,” the station reports. He said he was under the influence of methamphetamine and became enraged, so he stabbed Carey with a knife and fork.
“Arrudasouza ‘stabbed her multiple times until he realized what he had done,’ an officer wrote in the police report, adding that during his confession he also said he ‘deserves the punishment that comes to him,’” according to the station.
He is charged with second-degree murder with a weapon and aggravated battery, South Florida Gay News reports. He appeared in court Wednesday, tearful and again citing the influence of meth. He is being held without bond. At the time of Carey’s death, he was out on bail and awaiting trial on three counts of battery, stemming from a January arrest, the Washington Blade reports.
Carey was born in Santa Clara, Cuba, and spent her childhood there. In Miami, she became a popular dancer at Azúcar, a gay nightclub, and she was scheduled to start performing there again soon after a hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Blade reports. Azúcar is planning tributes to her for Friday and Sunday. She had won several beauty pageant titles, including Miss Trans Cuba and Miss Trans Global.
Friends remembered her as talented, outgoing, and kind. “She was the typical jovial and cheerful Cuban,” Arianna Lint, executive director of Arianna’s Center, which serves South Florida’s trans community, told the Blade. “She loved parties. She was very Cuban, very beautiful.” Lint said Carey and Arrudasouza had been having problems for some time and had sought emotional support through the center.
Carey had spent time in Los Angeles, and L.A. activist Bamby Salcedo, president of the Translatin@ Coalition, remembered her fondly. “This is a crazy world, so sad,” Salcedo told the Blade. “She was admired by so many in the trans communities, her work in pageantry, her work as a service provider; she was the most resilient person. She was a good person.”
The Los Angeles LGBT Center issued a statement upon the news of Carey’s death. “Yuni grew up in our community and went from someone who struggled at a young age to growing into a leader and advocate on behalf of the transgender community who was intentional in bringing voice to the trans Latina experience,” the statement reads in part. “Her death marks the 37th known murder of a transgender or gender-nonconforming person this year and reflects the larger epidemic of violence against the transgender community, which disproportionately impacts Latina and Black trans women. Unfortunately, domestic violence remains far too prevalent across society — with transgender people at increased risk — of which the consequences can be deadly.”
The center encouraged anyone dealing with domestic violence to call its STOP Violence Program, (323) 860-5806, and Legal Advocacy Project for Survivors, (323) 993-7649.