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South Carolina Trans Teen Killed; Man He Met for Date Charged With Murder

South Carolina Trans Teen Killed; Man He Met for Date Charged With Murder

Jacob Williamson

Jacob Williamson was found dead Tuesday, four days after he left his home for a date with a man he met online.

An 18-year-old transgender man has been found dead in South Carolina, and a man he met online is accused of his murder.

Jacob Williamson left his home in Laurens, S.C., the evening of June 30, Charlotte, N.C., TV station WBTV reports. He said goodbye to Promise Edwards, who had taken him into her home a month and a half ago after he was rejected by some members of his family for being trans.

Joshua Newton of Monroe, N.C., with whom Williamson had begun an online relationship, picked him up in Laurens, supposedly for a date at Carowinds, an amusement park on the North Carolina-South Carolina border. But Newton drove Williamson back to Monroe, and police say Williamson was killed in a house there. His body was found Tuesday along a road in Pageland, S.C., just over the state line from Monroe. Media reports have not said how he was killed.

Police arrested Newton, 25, and his girlfriend, Victoria Smith, 22. Newton is charged with first-degree murder and obstruction of justice, and Smith is charged with obstruction of justice and being an accessory after the fact, officials with the Union County, N.C., sheriff’s department told WBTV.

“While the motive is still being determined, it does not appear that Williamson was specifically targeted because of [his] gender identity,” Union County Lt. James Maye told Newsweek.

Edwards said she was happy to have given Williamson a safe space. “This world was so cruel to Jacob his entire life,” she said to WBTV. “I find peace in knowing that in the last month and a half, he found peace.”

She also cautioned against meeting up with strangers, saying parents should warn their children about the dangers. “Please express to them how unsafe it is to go with people online, how unsafe it is to get in the car with anybody that you do not know,” she said. “Because this is our reality now. Our reality is missing somebody that never deserved to go away like this.”

Williamson and Chanell Perez Ortiz of Puerto Rico are the 13th and 14th trans people known to have died by violence in the U.S. this year.

Joshua Newton and Victoria Smith

Joshua Newton and Victoria Smith

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