Yet another Black transgender woman has died by violence, Thomas Hardin of York, S.C., and a suspect has been arrested — a former romantic partner of Hardin’s.
Hardin was killed May 2, but it’s just now being widely reported that she was transgender. Hardin identified as female but continued to use the name Thomas and both male and female pronouns. There is little information available about Hardin’s life, but friends have recalled her as someone who “always kept you laughing,” according to the Human Rights Campaign.
Hardin’s family and friends became concerned when they hadn’t heard from her in a while, so they called police, who found her dead in a York home, local station WBTV reports. Police have not released a cause of death, but friends said Hardin was shot.
Chester County sheriff’s deputies took the suspect, Tyler Terry, 26, into custody Monday after searching for him for a week. He is accused in at least four homicides in two states, including Hardin’s, according to WBTV. He had been homeless and living in a wooded area.
“He’s as violent of a person as I’ve ever encountered,” Chester County Sheriff Max Dorsey said.
Police had already arrested a suspected accomplice, Adrienne Simpson, who they said had driven the getaway car the night Hardin was killed. Simpson and Terry are also accused of killing Simpson’s husband, Eugene Simpson, who went missing May 2 and whose body was found May 19.
Terry and Adrienne Simpson had both clashed with Hardin. Chimere Hicks, a friend of Hardin’s, said Terry and Hardin had once been romantically involved and lived together, but their relationship came to a tumultuous end.
Hardin “had put Tyler out of his house months ago,” Hicks told WBTV. “He was giving him a place to stay because he didn’t have anywhere to live. And it just wasn’t working out, and so he put him out. [Terry] would always send [Hardin] threatening messages, calling him names, just doing a lot of things to him. I just kept telling Thomas it’s not safe. You know you come home at night. But he always said, no, I’m not scared of him.” Hicks also described a screaming match between Adrienne Simpson and Hardin over Hardin’s relationship with Terry.
Hardin is the 27th trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming person reported to have died by violence in 2021; many more such deaths likely go unreported. The year is on track to exceed 2020’s total of 44, the most since activists and media have been keeping track.
“In May alone, we know of the violent deaths of at least eight transgender or gender-nonconforming people,” said a statement from Tori Cooper, HRC’s director of community engagement for its Transgender Justice Initiative. “This level of violence is both heartbreaking and horrifying. None of these individuals, including Thomas Hardin, deserved to have their lives cut short. Our hearts go out to all of her friends, family and community. We need everyone to speak up in defense of transgender and gender-nonconforming lives.”