Eight transgender women have been murdered in the less-than-six-months of 2015, the latest being 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson, a Theodore, Miss. teen stabbed 39 times and buried in a wooded field in George County, according to the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs. Other sources list more victims.
Josh Brandon Vallum, 28, told his father on June 1 that he had killed Williamson and buried her in the field on his father’s property near Rocky Creek, Miss. Bobby James Vallum then notified George County Sheriff’s Office officers, then helped the officers look for Williamson’s body, according to The Sun Herald, a Gulfport newspaper.
Vallum has been charged with murder. There have been no reports on why Vallum, an admitted member of the Latin King street gang, killed Williamson. Jeannie Miller, the 41-year-old woman with whom Williamson lived, told the Sun Herald that Vallum knew Williamson was transgender.
NCAVP identifies the other eight trans women killed this year as:
• Papi Edwards, a black trans woman shot to death Jan. 9 at the Fern Valley Motel in Louisville, Ky. Henry Richard Gleaves has been arrested and charged with her murder.
• Lamia Beard, a 30-year-old black trans woman found shot to death Jan. 17 in Norfolk, Va. No arrests have been reported.
• Ty Underwood, a 24-year-old black trans woman shot to death Jan. 26 in Tyler. Her former boyfriend, Carlton Ray Champion Jr., has been arrested and charged with her murder.
• Yazmin Vash Payne, a 33-year-old black trans women stabbed to death Jan. 31 at the scene of a house fire in Van Nuys, Calif. Her boyfriend, Ezekiel Dear, has been arrested and charged with her murder.
• Taja Gabrielle de Jesus, a 36-year-old Latina trans women stabbed to death in a stairwell in San Francisco’s Bayview District on Feb. 1. I found no reports of anyone being arrested for her murder.
• Penny Proud, a 21-year-old black trans woman shot to death Feb. 10 in New Orleans, La. I found no reports of anyone being arrested for her murder.
• Kristina Gomez Reinwald. a 46-year-old Latina trans woman who died after being found unresponsive in her Miami home. Her death, initially ruled a suicide, has been determined to be a homicide and is under investigation.
NCAVP notes there are three other homicides of transgender or gender-non-conforming individuals this year “in which a clear motive has not been established or a bias-motive is not apparent.” Those include Bri Golec, a 22-year-old Ohio trans woman who was stabbed to death by her father; Victoria Chanel, a 21-year-old black trans woman stabbed to death in Philadelphia; and Maya Hall, who was killed when she drove a stolen SUV through a security barrier at Fort Meade in Maryland.
Victoria Chanel was a native of Victoria, Texas. Raheam Felton, 31, has been charged with her murder.
As the death toll continues to mount, the Liberty Hill Foundation on June 17 released this video written and performed by Evolve Benton, aka Emotions the Poet, entitled “How to Be a Trans Ally.”