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Episode 113

The Epidemic of Transgender Women Murders

October 25, 2021   Tags: , , , , ,
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According to the Human Rights Campaign since the beginning of 2021, there have been 38 violent deaths of transgender or gender non-conforming persons in the United States in 2021. We are covering five of those cases. The victims--Davarea Alexander, Serenity Hollis, Iris Santos, Alexus Braxton and Kier Lapri Kartier--deserve justice. 

The Murder of Davarea Alexander:
28-year-old Davarea Alexander was born and raised in Chicago. In early 2021, Davarea was living with her mom in Chicago. She was loved by so many in the community, by her family and her boyfriend Brandon Gowdy. 

On January 6th, Davarea and Brandon were walking on the 800 block of West 75th Street in the South Side of Chicago around 5 AM. Along their walk, a silver car drove by and began shooting. 

Davarea was shot in the head. Brandon was shot in the lower left side and upper left bicep. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Brandon was taken to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries. 

The news was devastating to the community. Because of a murder just two weeks prior, people in the area wondered if transgender black women were being targeted. 

25-year-old Courtney “Eshay” Key was friends with Davarea. Eshay’s friend Beverly Ross told CBS News she was hilarious and determined. She loved getting her nails done and colorful hair.

By all accounts, she and Davarea were both the life of the party when they went out. But on Christmas Day 2020, Eshay’s life was taken in the same neighborhood where Davarea would later be murdered. 

Eshay was planning to go to her mother’s that Christmas evening. But at 8:35 PM, Chicago police discovered Eshay’s body on the 900 block of East 82nd Street. Initially investigators thought she was a victim of a hit and run with an “open wound to the left side” of head. Further examination revealed multiple gunshot wounds.

Friends and family of both women believe they were victims of hate crimes. But when asked, the police said they don’t know. Saying it’s, “really difficult to prove unless you have someone in custody… It’s just so hard to classify something as a hate crime without a lot of evidence pointing to that.”


The Murder of Serenity Hollis:
In 2019, Serenity Hollis moved from Orlando to Albany, Georgia. Her time in Albany was met with at least two attacks. The first was in April of 2019. On the 15th, Serenity was outside of the House of Jazz on West Highland Avenue. 

She and a man could be seen arguing on a surveillance camera. The man was punching Serenity and she ran on to the porch. There the man pulled a knife and stabbed Serenity 22 times, leaving the blade in her head. 

The man then left the scene in a car driven by a woman. The authorities arrived at 5:45 PM to the scene.  Police put out a request to the public after seeing the surveillance video. Six days later they arrested Shinar Edwards. Edwards was sentenced to 20 years for the aggravated assault and an additional five for using a knife during a crime. The earliest possible date of parole is 2026. 

Serenity recovered from this attack. She was well enough to begin a new job at Sanderson Farms poultry plant in December 2020. 

Just over two years after her attack, Serenity would be on that same block of West Highland Avenue. She was walking along the street at about 4 AM, when she was shot and killed. Again police were able to find surveillance footage of this attack too.

Her family believes that she was either the target of a hate crime or that the killing was an act of revenge. But police are hoping by releasing the video and information they will find someone who may have seen something in the area. 


Surveillance video of Serenity’s murder.

Iris Santos' Murder: 

22-year-old Iris Santos was from Houston and the youngest of four children. Her mother Maria called her daughter a “beautiful soul.” According to her mother, Iris was bullied. People would throw trash cans at her.

In an article by the Human Rights Campaign, her theater teacher said Iris, “knew what she wanted in life and she was not ashamed of who she was.” She was a confident LatinX woman and wanted to go to Hollywood. But in the meantime, she had an online business selling candles and soaps. She also read tarot cards and did makeup consultations.

On April 23rd, 2021, Iris was eating on a picnic table outside the Chick-fil-a on Westheimer Road. At 9:32 PM, someone approached her and shot her multiple times. Like in Serenity Hollis’ case there was surveillance footage of the shooter running away. 

The first part of the video is from inside of the Chick-fil-a where you can see the suspect at first calmly walking by the windows. The second portion is of him running on the sidewalk and then into an apartment complex before law enforcement loses him.

Surveillance of the suspect in the Serenity Hollis murder.

Alexus Braxton's Murder:
45-year-old Alexus Braxton--also known as Kimmy Icon--was a hairstylist at Jackees Styling Salon. She was incredibly active on social media. She often posted videos about her new looks and issues that mattered. Her Facebook profile said, “I’m a trans living my truth well established and TransLivesMatter and BlackLivesMatter as well.”

On February 2nd, Alexus posted on Facebook, saying “Morning February, please be good to me and my family...I’m living in peace...surviving the hate after so many years.” The next day she posted a video of her new red bob hairdo. She was also active on OnlyFans and posted about a new video dropping soon about Valentine’s Day.

But on February 4th, Alexus’ mom Joenita tried to reach her. She called her all day. When there was no response she and one of her other daughters headed to Alexus’ apartment in the Carmel at the California Club condo complex.

The two women arrived around 10 PM. According to the Gay City News, the women felt like something was suspicious. Instead of entering on their own, they called the police. When law enforcement arrived, they opened the door to discover Alexus’ dead body. 

The cause of death has not been released. But it was reported that she was shot. Miami-Dade Police are not releasing details of the homicide for fear it would jeopardize their investigation. But they did comment that it was “violent and vicious.”

Law enforcement has said they are looking into all angles at the moment--including the possibility of a hate crime. And like Iris’ and Serenity’s cases there is surveillance video. The video is from the condo complex. Miami-Dade Police hasn’t called the person in the video a suspect but they think this person may have information. 

Detective Juan Segovia told People magazine, “We always believe that somebody saw something that they may not even realize that’s going to help us on this case...Maybe somebody heard something that night, maybe somebody saw something that was out of place, something suspicious that they haven’t come forth with. We’re urging those people to come forth.”

The Murder Kier Lapri Kartier:

21-year-old Kier Lapri Kartier had just recently transitioned. She was a Dallas native and a strong, independent person. 

On September 30th, Kier had dinner at a friend’s house in Dallas around 7:30 PM. As she left the house she said she needed to make a quick trip to Arlington. Kier didn’t say why or what was in Arlington. 

Two hours later, a passerby on Stonetrail Road placed a call to law enforcement to say an unresponsive person was inside a running car. Police arrived on scene. The car was still running. The driver’s side door was open. Kier was shot. 

Police haven’t said if anything was missing. They aren’t sure why Kier was at the apartment complex and they are hoping to find surveillance video. 

ASSIGNMENT:
28-year-old Davarea Alexander and Courtney Key were both murdered on the South Side of Chicago just two weeks apart. Courtney was shot on Christmas Day on East 82nd Street. Davarea and her boyfriend Brandon Gowdy were shot on January 6th around 5 AM at the 800 block of West 75th Street. The shooter of Davarea is thought to have been in a silver car. It’s unknown if these crimes are connected. 

24-year-old Serenity Hollis survived a vicious stabbing attack in April 2019. Just over a year later--on May 8th, 2021--a man approached her on the same block of West Highland Avenue in Albany, Georgia, and shot her.

22-year-old Iris Santos was shot sitting at a picnic table in Houston, Texas. She was outside the Chick-fil-a on Westheimer Road at 9:32 PM. A man in a dark colored sweater and gray or white sweatpants was seen fleeing the crime scene. 

45-year-old Alexus “Kimmy Icon” Braxton was active on social media until February 4th, 2021. That day her mother tried to reach her and could not. Upon arriving at her home in the Carmel at the California Club condo complex, they called police. Alexus had been murdered. Police are hoping someone with information will come forward. 

If you have any information on these cases, please contact us.

CODE OF CONDUCT: 

1. Do not name names publicly. Send everything to the police or to this page and we will forward to the police. 
2. Do not post side by side photos.
3. Do not contact any family members. 
4. Do not doxx each other and be civil. We all want the same thing. 

As tips come in, Jensen and Holes will work to verify them. If they look good, we will publish them here to try and get us closer to their names.

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