No progress yet in murder of trans woman

Posted on 21 Aug 2015 at 7:00am

‘Ms. Shade’ Schuler was one of 18 trans women killed this year in the U.S.

 Tammye Nash   |  Managing Editor

MsShadeSr. Cpl. Tramese Andrews said this week Dallas police have no new developments to report in their ongoing investigation into the murder of 22-year-old Shade Schuler, a black transwoman whose badly decomposed body was found July 29 in a vacant field off Riverside Drive.

But Andrews said the department’s investigation is ongoing, and asked that anyone with information related to the case call DPD Homicide investigators at 214-671-3584 or Crime Stoppers at 214-373-8477.

Schuler is one of 18 transgender women known to have been murdered so far this year, and the second one in Texas. Ty Underwood, 24, was murdered Jan. 26 in Tyler allegedly by a man with whom she had had a brief relationship. Carlton Ray Champion Jr. has been arrested and charged with Underwood’s murder.

Transgender advocates note that more transgender people have been murdered in the U.S. already this year than in all of 2014. They also note that there have likely been more transgender victims, but that these women are often misgendered by police and the media, and so they are not included in the tally of transgender murder victims.

There are also numerous other violent attacks on transgender victims that do not end with the victims’ death. A 12-year-old boy was arrested July 31 in Orlando, Fla., and charged with attempted murder and grand theft of a firearm, according to WESH Channel 2, after chasing a transgender woman down a downtown Orlando street while firing a handgun at her and shouting threats and homophobic slurs.

Cheyenne West, 25, told Orlando police she did not know the boy who fired seven shots at her.

Transgender advocates have also noted that the vast majority of the murdered women have been trans women of color. Houston activist Monica Roberts, in her blog TransGriot, said that more would have been done to address the epidemic of anti-trans violence had most of the victims been white.

“I’ll bet if the script was flipped and we had young white trans women under 30 dying at the same rate as black and Latina ones have been in 2015, we would already have the 100,000 signatures on that White House We The People petition calling for the federal investigation of anti-trans violence and then some,” Roberts wrote on her blog on Aug. 16. “Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton would be saying it from the Democratic campaign trail, and Hollywood’s trans supportive allies would already be talking about ‘stopping the orgy of violence aimed at young trans people.’”

Roberts continued, “So no, don’t even dare part your lips to let that infuriating and insulting ‘All Trans Lives Matter’ comment pass through your lips when some of these trans kids have yet to be buried. It’s fairly obvious some trans lives matter more than others, and we need to keep it real on that point.”

The victims
This year’s string of murders of transgender woman began Jan. 9 in Louisville, Ky., when 20-year-old Papi Edwards was shot to death. Henry Richard Gleaves, 20, has been arrested and charged with her murder.

On Jan. 17, Lamia Beard, 30, was shot to death on a Norfolk, Va., street. Her death is still under investigation, and police have said it could be linked to another shooting that occurred on a nearby street that same night. Reports on Beard’s death have not identified the second shooting victim.

Underwood was shot to death in Tyler on Jan. 26, her body found in her car after the vehicle crashed into a telephone pole as she apparently tried to flee her attacker. Five days later, Yazmin Vash Payne, 33, was stabbed to death in Los Angeles. Her boyfriend, 25-year-old Ezekiel Dear, later turned himself in to police and confessed to Payne’s murder.

San Francisco trans activist Taja Gabrielle DeJesus, 36, was stabbed to death in the stairwell of a Bayview District building on Feb. 1. Police found the suspect in her murder, James Hayes, 49, dead of an apparent suicide five days later.

Penny Proud, 21, of New Orleans was shot to death Feb. 10 in an apparent robbert. Her death is still under investigation and no arrests have been made.
Bri Golec, 22, was stabbed to death in Akron, Ohio on Feb. 13, allegedly by her 52-year-old father, Kevin Golec. Kevin Golec initially told police Bri had been killed by members of a “cult” who had broken into their home and assaulted them both.

On Feb. 16, Kristina Gomez Reinwald, 46, was stabbed to in her home in Miami. Police initially said Reinwald committed suicide, but later said she was murdered. The case is still under investigation, and while no suspect has been arrested, Reinwald’s friends have suggested that she was likely murdered by a former boyfriend with whom she had a stormy relationship.

London Chanel, 21, was stabbed to death in North Philadelphia on May 18. Investigators believe that Chanel was attacked inside a home, and that her body was then moved to the street by the man who stabbed her and a witness. But even though those men have been questioned by police, no charges have been filed. The investigation continues.

On May 30, 17-year-old Mercedes Williamson was stabbed to death and her body buried in a field behind the home of the murder suspect’s father near Rocky Creek, Ala. The suspect in the case, 28-year-old Joshua Brandon Vallum, told his father he had killed someone and buried them in the field, and the father, Bobby Vallum then contacted police. Williamson’s body was found on June 2. Josh Vallum has been identified as a possible member of the Latin Kings street gang.

Ashton O’Hara, 25, was beaten to death July 14 in Detroit. Larry B. Gaulding has been arrested and charged with first degree murder in her death.

The next murder occurred July 21 when India Clarke, 25, was beaten to death in Tampa, Fla. Her murder remains under investigation and no arrests have been made.

Police in Fresno, Calif., have made no arrests in the July 23 death of K.C. Haggard, although the 66-year-old woman’s grisly murder was caught on video by surveillance cameras at a nearby store. The video shows Haggard walking down the street, about 2 a.m., when an SUV pulled up nearby and someone inside the vehicle called her over. Haggard approached the passenger side window of the SUV and after talking for less than a minute, a passenger in the SUV reached out and slashed her throat.

College student Amber Monroe, 20, was shot to death on a Detroit street on Aug. 8. Witnesses told police Monroe was getting out of a vehicle when someone inside the vehicle shot her.

The most recent murder happened Aug. 11 when 35-year-old Kandis Capri was shot to death outside an apartment complex in Phoenix. Because her purse and phone were missing, police believe she may have been killed during a robbery. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.

The body of a 19th transgender victim found buried behind a home in Smithfield, in Johnson County, N.C., has been identified as 20-year-old Elisha Walker, who family members say had been missing since last fall. Police say Walker died of blunt force injuries.

Police found Walker’s body after locating her car, which had been burned and abandoned in another county. The discovery of the car led to the arrest of Angel Arias, 23, who has been charged with murder and felony theft. Police said Arias, like the suspect in the murder of Mercedes Williamson, is a member of the Latin Kings street gang.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 21, 2015.

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