Lack of answers by investigators, attention by community sparks national upset surrounding the death of Artegus Konyale Madden
SAVANNAH, Denton County — Investigators with the Denton County Sheriff’s Office have few answers about the death of transgender woman Artegus Konyale Madden.
Madden, 34, was found dead in her home on Hayden Lane in Savannah Estates by friends on Sept. 1. Savannah is a small town east of Denton.
Madden’s death was ruled a homicide by the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office, which covers Denton County. She was killed in her living room with the cause of death a gunshot wound to the neck.
Investigators are not releasing much information surrounding the incident. No motive or suspect information has been made public. The lead investigator on the case has not returned numerous calls over several weeks.
Denton County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Sandi Brackeen said she didn’t know if the case was a hate crime. She said officials are not releasing any information about the case because it is still under investigation.
While Texas’ hate crime enhancement law only includes “sexual preference,” not gender identity, law enforcement agencies are required to report bias-motivated crimes to the FBI.
Madden grew up in Longview and attended the University of Texas at Arlington, according to her obituary. She attended services at the Potter’s House of Dallas regularly.
The Rev. Carmarion Anderson, who is also trans, said she met Madden about 10 years ago through a mutual family member. She said she had a passion for living free and was a spiritual person, often saying that “living her ‘truth’ was the appropriate way to display the Love of Christ provided to humanity.”
Madden’s death was heartbreaking for Anderson, who said she was even more upset by the way her death has been handled by authorities.
“I am more challenged regarding how her murder has been handled by the authorities with no active actions being taken for due-justice,” she said. “As a transgender individual, activist and minister of the gospel, I am very concerned about the increase in deaths due to violence in the transgender community at-large.”
Madden’s death was one of four September homicides in the country that affected the female minority transgender community. The unsolved cases have led the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs to call on the LGBT community and law enforcement to take the cases seriously. NCAVP tracks homicides in the LGBT community.
In a 2012 report, NCAVP found that out of the 25 documented anti-LGBT murders, 73 percent of victims were minorities and 54 percent were transgender women.
Chai Jindasurat, co-director of community organizing and public advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said Madden’s death is important and police should release information.
“Quite honestly, the sad truth is we’re receiving the message that trans lives, particularly trans women of color, they don’t matter because when they’re killed, we don’t see the same level of outcry from local community organizations or from local authorities,” he said.
Jindasurat said the LGBT community needs to come together as a community to understand how severe and serious the violence toward minority trans women is and organize around it.
Blair High, coordinator at Resource Center’s transgender GEAR program, said many people in the Dallas trans community didn’t recognize Madden. There’s a trans group in Fort Worth and GEAR in Dallas, but nothing in the Denton area.
High said many trans people find support while they transition and then move on with their lives, something she sees a lot in her group.
“Most people transition and then they’re gone, they just blend in and kind of live their life,” High said. “You’re isolated and repressed so long, you just want to move on.”
High said she’s not surprised police appear to be blowing off the case because there’s little attention to the trans community and crimes that affect it outside of major cities like Dallas and Fort Worth.
Anderson said that the LGBT community will come together to remember Madden and ensure that her murderer is found.
“Until justice is served towards her death and many other trans people who preceded her, we will continue to stand united as a community,” she said.
People with information about her death should contact Sgt. Kish at 940-349-1665.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 11,, 2013.
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