The prime suspect in the Los Angeles murder of a 33-year-old transgender woman turned himself in to police Sunday, reports local TV station KTLA.
Ezekiel Dear, 25, had been identified by police as the prime suspect in the Saturday murder of Michelle (Yazmin) Vash Payne. On Sunday, Dear was accompanied by a pastor when he walked into the 77th Police Precinct at 3:30 p.m. and confessed to murdering Payne, Los Angeles Police Department Capt. Lillian Carranza told reporters. Another L.A. station, KCBS, is reporting that police have identified Dear as the boyfriend with whom Payne shared an apartment in the Van Nuys section of the city.
Payne was found shortly after 5 a.m. Saturday in her 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.
Payne is the third U.S. trans woman of color reported murdered in 2015, in an alarming, fatal trend of violence against transgender women, especially women of color, that sees a trans person murdered nearly every two days worldwide. January saw the shooting deaths of Papi Edwards, 20, of Louisville, Ky., Lamia Beard, 30, of Norfolk, Va., and Ty Underwood, 24, of Tyler, Texas.
Payne's death also marks 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, and 47-year-old Aniya Parker was fatally shot October 2, both in suspected robberies.
Protestors gathered to mourn Payne's death denounced this ongoing crisis at the candlelight vigil and march held Sunday night outside Payne's apartment building.
"They’re killing us and nobody seems to care," trans advocate Bamby Salcedo told KCBS in the video report below. "This is not an isolated incident. And it’s important that the LAPD continues to do what they’re supposed to do."