Michelle Vash Payne, a 33-year-old transgender woman of color, was fatally stabbed in a Los Angeles apartment over the weekend. Firefighters responded at about 5 a.m. Saturday to a call of a fire, where they forced entry into the apartment and extinguished a small blaze in a bedroom, according to an LAPD news release. They found Payne (who was also known as Yasmine) lying on the kitchen floor. She was pronounced dead at the scene. Ezekiel Dear, 25, turned himself in to the police on Sunday. Police, however, are not confirming his relationship to the victim.
Neighbors told the authorities that the victim lived with her boyfriend and they recently moved into the building. Reportedly, the couple were constantly arguing or fighting, and had argued about an hour before firefighters arrived at the scene.
Last night, L.A.-based trans advocate Bamby Salcedo organized a vigil for Payne and for community members to mourn this tragic loss. Watch some of the moving footage below.
According to a 2013 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, 72% of LGBTQ homicide victims were transgender women and 67% of homicide victims were transgender women of color. Payne is the third transgender woman of color killed in 2015.
Note: A January 9 shooting victim in Louisville, Ky., 20-year-old Lamar Edwards, has widely been reported as a fourth trans woman of color killed this year. The Advocate reports that it has confirmed with a friend of the victim that Edwards identified as a gay man. ELIXHER, however, is continuing to receive reports from community members that suggest otherwise. We will update our readers when we can confirm details further.