Police arrest 26-year-old Dallas man in murder of ‘life partner’ in N. Oak Cliff

Jonathan Kenney

UPDATE: See update here.

Dallas police have arrested a North Oak Cliff man suspected of killing his “life partner” on Monday.

Jonathan Stuart Kenney, 26, was arrested Thursday after the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office ruled the death of 43-year-old Jesus Tovar, Kenney’s partner, a homicide. Dallas Voice subsequently learned that Tovar was a transgender woman who went by Janette.

According to an arrest affidavit, an investigation into Tovar’s death revealed that Kenney, who is listed as Tovar’s life partner, slammed Tovar’s head into the concrete in the 830 block of West Davis Street at 6:20 a.m. Monday. Kenney then continued to assault Tovar when they returned home to 918 W. 8th St.

Police then responded to a 911 call at about 4:20 p.m. at the couple’s residence. The initial police report states that a man called 911 around 4 p.m. Monday after finding Tovar “not breathing and unresponsive.” Dallas Fire-Rescue and homicide detectives responded to the scene.

The arrest affidavit states that Kenney did not tell police he and Tovar had a fight before he found Tovar. The apartment manager told police the couple were fighting between 8 and 9 a.m. and that he heard Tovar tell Kenney to “Get off me!” The manager told police he lives directly below the couple and banged on the ceiling to get them to stop fighting. He told police they “are always fighting and arguing.”

Kenney provided a taped statement to police Monday night, admitting that he slammed Tovar’s head into the concrete at Tyler and Davis streets and that he continued to assault her after they arrived home at their apartment.

After the Dallas County Medical Examiner’s Office performed an autopsy, Tovar’s death was ruled a homicide Tuesday with the cause of death listed as blunt force trauma to the head, the affidavit states.

An arrest warrant was issued for Kenney on Wednesday. Police confirmed that he was in custody on Thursday morning.

—  Anna Waugh

Ellis County murder victim identified; arrest made

Sketch of murder victim

Lt. Rick White of the Ellis County Sheriff’s Department said the body of a woman found shot has been identified — and she was not a member of the LGBT community. An arrest has been made in the case.

After the body was found, several clues led investigators to ask the LGBT community for help in identifying the woman. No missing persons report from the area matched the body.

White said that the woman has been identified as 19-year-old Sonya Ballinger of Irving. Thaddeus Terrence Quinn, 38, was arrested on suspicion of murder, after being picked up on a warrant for another offense.

White said Ballinger had been living with her mother until June and had been staying with her boyfriend in Irving.

White said her boyfriend wanted to report her missing on July 17, the day investigators think she was killed. Ballinger’s mother decided not to report her daughter missing, however, because she apparently had disappeared for periods of time in the past.

Quinn’s body was found on July 23 in a wooded area between Waxahachie and Midlothian about 6 miles south of the Dallas County line.

—  David Taffet

Ellis County Sheriff asking for help identifying dead woman

Ellis County Sheriff investigator Joe Fitzgerald is asking the LGBT community in Dallas for help in identifying a body found in a heavily wooded area in the county.

She is approximately 5 feet, 4 inches tall, weighing about 115 pounds. She is believed to be of African-American heritage. She was wearing a black or dark gray tank top, blue jean shorts and white Nike tennis shoes with purple shoe laces.

Fitzgerald said information connected her to Dallas and Irving and possibly to the LGBT community.

Trauma indicates the murder did not occur there.

“Someone killed her and threw her to the side of the road,” he said.

Investigators believe she disappeared on July 17. She made some purchases in Irving on that day. The body was found on July 23 and she may have been dead for five days and was badly decomposed. The sheriff’s office released a sketch of what she may have looked like when alive (above) and pictures of tattoos and identifying marks (below).

What bothers investigators is that there have been no reports of a missing person matching the description of the woman found. Anyone with information about her identity should contact Joe Fitzgerald in the Ellis County Sheriff’s office at 972-825-4928.

—  David Taffet

Kerry Max Cook in the news, in different ways

Theatre 3, which planned a full run of the play The Exonerated in its Theatre Too space downstairs, has been forced to cut back due to construction issues. Now, it will run for only three staged readings on May 18 and 19 at 8 p.m. and a May 20 matinee at 2:30 p.m.

One of the persons profiled in this show — which chronicles the experiences of six death row inmates later exonerated — is Kerry Max Cook, pictured.

I have an odd relationship with Kerry. I knew nothing about his alleged crime — supposedly murdering a woman in Tyler in 1977 — until I moved to Dallas in 1990. At that time, he was undergoing a retrial in Dallas, and the story was covered almost daily on the front page of the Dallas Morning News. His image — the shock-white brush-cut and stony look — was memorable, and when he was re-convicted, I thought, “Just as well. He probably did it.” Then in 1997, he entered a plea deal, pleading “no contest” in exchange for a sentence of time-served. (The Exonerated followed a decade later.)

Everyone seems to be in agreement that Kerry didn’t do it. Certainly, that was my conclusion, after I met and interviewed him. Kerry came by my office in 2005 or 2006, and I wrote a cover story for the Voice about his ordeal. (His hair was darker by then, but the face was unmistakeable.) Kerry was a friendly fellow, who spoke convincingly about his innocence.

One thing he said to me was that he always assumed he was targeted in part because he frequented gay bars in Dallas in the 1970s, and was therefore labeled an “undesirable” by the cops in Tyler. (Tyler has a pretty crappy history when it comes to gay stuff.) Kerry has since married a woman.

I really liked Kerry, but truth is, “exonerated” has always been a slight overstatement. Kerry wasn’t deemed “innocent,” just freed and the death penalty against him abandoned.

But Kerry doesn’t wanna let it go. He’s back in court in Smith County, asking to conduct more DNA evidence to conclusively establish his innocence, as reported in the Texas Tribune. Personally, I hope he wins. And I hope it makes people reconsider the death penalty.

—  Arnold Wayne Jones

Brandon McInerney pleads guilty to 2nd-degree murder in 2008 shooting of Larry King

Brandon McInerney, left, has pleaded guilty to shooting his gay classmate, Lawrence "Larry" King to death in February 2008, when McInerney was 14 and King was 15.

More than three years after he pulled out a gun in a junior high computer lab and shot classmate Larry King in the head, Brandon McInerney pleaded guilty on Monday to second-degree murder. Sentencing is set for sometime in December, and prosecutors have said McInerney will be sentenced to 21 years in prison, without time off for good behavior, according to MSNBC.com.

McInerney has already served four years in jail and will be 38 by the time he is released.

The plea deal comes after prosecutors’ first efforts to convict McInerney on murder and hate crime charges in July ended in a mistrial. In planning for a second trial, prosecutors had decided to drop the hate crimes charge because jurors in the first trial did not believe prosecutors’ charges that McInerney was a white supremacist who acted out of hatred for gays.

King, 15 at the time of his death, was an openly gay student at E.O. Green Junior High in Oxnard, Calif., and McInerney, 14 at the time, was angry that King had been flirting with him. On Feb. 12, 2008, McInerney carried a gun to school in his backpack. When he went into the computer lab, he walked up behind King, shot him once in the head and then shot him again as King lay on the floor. King died two days later after being taken off life support.

The murder sparked headlines and outrage around the country. But when McInerney went to trial in July, his defense attorneys denied that he had been motivated by anti-gay hatred and worked to convince jurors the school was at fault for not reining in King’s flamboyant behavior in class. And on Monday, King’s mother, Dawn King, told the LA Times that she had contacted the school four days before the shooting to ask for school officials’ help in “toning down” her son’s behavior. She said school officials told her that her son had a civil right to explore his sexuality.

Authorities had removed Larry King from his home two months earlier because of domestic problems.

Teachers at E.O. Green Junior High also testified at McInerney’s trial in July that they had tried to warn administrators about “growing tensions” between Larry King and some of the boys in his class, but that the administrators had “shunned them.” The LA Times reports that teachers and students alike testified at the trial that King had been wearing makeup and women’s accessories and “flirting aggressively with male students on campus who did not want the attention.”

Following the mistrial in July, Gay, Lesbian, Straight Education Network Executive Director Eliza Byard said prosecutors should have “done the just and merciful thing” and reached a plea agreement with McInenery because the trial created a “painful spectacle that accomplished nothing.”

Following Monday’s announcement that a plea arrangement had been reached, Byard said:

“The plea deal announced today ends a tragic chapter in Ventura County. Holding Brandon McInerney accountable for his actions is necessary and right, but putting him behind bars does not solve the problems that led a boy to become a bully, and then a murderer.  Homophobia and transphobia, compounded by the lack of counseling and other supports for struggling young people, resulted in Larry King’s death and the effective end of Brandon McInerney’s life. As adults and as a society, we must find the resolve to fix the broken systems that lost two young lives to hate and fear. The end to this painful chapter must now serve as a new beginning. Ventura County along with communities and school districts everywhere must come together to promote a culture of respect and nurture the true potential found in every individual regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender expression.”

—  admin

UNT scientists working to ID Gacy’s victims

More than 30 years after serial killer John Wayne Gacy was arrested, convicted of murdering 33 young men and boys and sentenced to death, scientists at the University of North Texas Center for Human Identification are working, at the request of Cook County, Ill.,  to identify the remains of eight of those victims who have remained anonymous all these years.

John Wayne Gacy

Arthur Eisenberg, co-director of the identification center at the UNT Health Science Center, located in Fort Worth, told the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that scientists at the have been successful in extracting DNA from the bones of the eight victims but that testing will continue for at least another month. But even after the DNA profiles are complete, Eisenberg noted, they won’t be useful in identifying the unknown victims unless the scientists have something to compare them with.

Family members of young men and boys who are believed to have fallen victim to Gacy but whose remains were not among those already identified are being asked to contribute DNA samples for comparison, and the DNA profiles from the unidentified remains will also be compared to a database of DNA profiles from family members of young men and boys who went missing during Gacy’s six-year killing spree.

Gacy first began molesting young boys in the late 1960s when he lived with his first wife and their two children in Waterloo, Iowa. Eventually, two of the boys reported him to police and in December 1968 he was convicted of sodomy and sentenced to 10 years in prison. His wife divorced him and he never saw her or their children again. He was paroled two years later and moved back to his hometown of Chicago. He killed his first victim in 1972.

Of the 33 young men and boys he is known to have killed, 26 were buried in the crawlspace under his home. Three more were buried elsewhere on his property, and the final four victims were dumped in a nearby river.

Gacy eventually became known as “The Killer Clown,” in reference to the fact that he had joined an organization that dressed as clowns to perform at charitable events and for hospitalized children. Gacy’s clown character was called Pogo The Clown.

John Wayne Gacy was executed by lethal injection on May 10, 1994, at the age of 52.

—  admin

3rd trans person shot in D.C. since July

Police in Washington, D.C. are investigating the shooting of a transgender person that occurred just after 2 a.m. this morning in the Southeast area of the city, according to The Washington Post.

The Post report indicates that the victim survived the shooting and was conscious when transported by ambulance to the hospital. The article does not say whether the victim was a woman or a man.

The shooting marks the third time since late July that a trans person has been shot on a D.C. street by unknown assailants. On July 20, Lashay Mclean was walking in the 6100 block of Dix Street, in the city’s northeast area, with a friend when the were approached by two men, one of who asked Mclean a question and then shot and killed Mclean before she could answer. Eleven days later, another trans woman was walking on Dix Street, about a block away from where Mclean was killed, when she was approached by a man who asked for money and then, without waiting for a response, pulled a gun and fired at the woman. The shot missed and the woman was uninjured.

Police are still investigating whether the three shootings are related.

In addition, an off-duty D.C. Metropolitan Police Department officer has been arrested for an Aug. 29 incident in which he got into an argument with a group that included two trans woman. He later stood on the hood of the group’s car and fired multiple times through the windshiled. One man in the car — said to be the brother of one of the trans women — was injured in the attack.

The officer, 20-year veteran Kenneth Furr, is alleged to have been drunk at the time of the attack, and trans advocates who spoke to the victims said the argument started when Furr propositioned one of the trans women and then got angry when she turned him down.

D.C. police are also investigating an incident in which a transgender woman was found dead with trauma to her face on Saturday.

—  admin

Cult leader kills 4-year-old for being gay

Peter Lucas Moses, 27, right, faces capital murder charges after allegedly shooting to death 4-year-old Jaden Higganbothan, left, because Moses thought the child was gay. Moses lived in Durham, N.C., with several women, including Jaden’s mother, who considered Moses their husband and called him ‘Lord.’

A Durham, N.C. man is on trial for capital murder after he allegedly shot a 4-year-old boy in the head because he thought the boy might be gay.

Peter Lucas Moses Jr., 27, is also accused of murdering a young woman who tried to escape from the house where she had been living with Moses and several other women, who called Moses “Lord.” Prosecutors have said they plan to seek the death penalty against Moses. Three of his “wives” are also charged with murder and with being accessories to murder.

According to information presented in court by prosecutors on Friday, July 8, Moses lived in a house in Durham with several women and their children — most of whom were fathered by Moses. But 4-year-old Jaden Higganbothan had a different father, who had left his mother, Vania Higganbothan Sisk, 25. Because Jaden’s father had left his mother and because Jaden hit one of the other children on the rear a couple of times, Moses decided the boy was gay and that they needed to get rid of him. In fact, prosecutors say, Moses had already told Sisk to get rid of Jaden at least once.

—  admin

What’s Brewing: Suspect arrested in murder of gay E. Dallas couple found in burned apartment

Your weekday morning blend from Instant Tea:

1. A 23-year-old homeless man has been arrested in the murder of a gay Dallas couple found dead inside their burned-out apartment last month, The Dallas Morning News reports. The suspect, Oscar Mirelez Young, told police that one of the victims picked him up for sex and that he and an accomplice planned to rob the couple. Mike Humphrey, 59, and Clayton Capshaw, 61, were found dead in their apartment in the 11200 block of Woodmeadow Parkway on April 27, after the apartment was set on fire to cover up the crime. Humphrey reportedly had a habit of going to the Bridge, Dallas’ homeless shelter, and picking up men for sex. Young was captured in Uvalde, west of San Antonio, after being pulled over while driving a stolen vehicle, and admitting that he killed two people in Dallas. Young faces a charge of capital murder. The second suspect is still being sought.

Ed Oakley

2. We’ll have more on last night’s LGBT mayoral forum at the Cathedral of Hope in a bit, but for now I wanted to point you to this clever headline in the DMN: “Peace, love and understanding mark Dallas mayoral debate at Cathedral of Hope.” The DMN also reports that openly gay former Dallas City Councilman Ed Oakley has endorsed Mike Rawlings for mayor. Oakley previously backed Ron Natinsky, who didn’t make the runoff. Oakley was defeated in a runoff for mayor by Tom Leppert in 2007.

Joel Burns

3. Anti-bullying language is included in standards of care for Fort Worth’s youth programs adopted by the City Council on Tuesdsay night, according to the Star-Telegram. Gay Councilman Joel Burns applauded the ordinance adopting the standards for children ages 5 to 13, which mirrors language in an anti-bullying bill that passed the Texas House on Tuesday night. The House voted 118-26 to concur with changes to the bill, HB 1942, and it now proceeds to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk. The bill, by Rep. Diane Howard, R-Arlington, is Equality Texas’ top priority in this year’s legislative session.

—  John Wright

UPDATE: Police release description of missing vehicle belonging to NE Dallas murder victim

Earlier we told you about the two men found dead in a burned Northeast Dallas apartment. Police are still not releasing the victims’ names because their bodies were so badly damaged in the fire that they’re waiting on the medical examiner to positively identify them. However, police have now released a description of the vehicle belonging to one of the victims, which is apparently missing. The vehicle is a silver, four-door 2002 Saturn L200, with a license number of 5CVDN. If you see it, call 911.

Again, police have confirmed that they believe the two victims were a gay couple, but they aren’t treating the murders as a hate crime. Police also say they don’t know the motive for the crime, prompting some to question how a hate crime can be ruled out. We posed this question to DPD Sr. Cpl. Kevin Janse:

“Detectives will not elaborate at this time,” Janse told Instant Tea. “It may hamper the investigation.”

—  John Wright