2 men charged with the murder of 2 transgender women
The bodies of both women were found in two separate hotel rooms in Charlotte
Dontarius Long and Joel Brewer have been charged in connection with the deaths of Jaida Peterson and Remy Fennell, Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Chief Johnny Jennings said at a news conference on Friday, according to CNN.
Police found the body of Peterson, 29, in a hotel room in West Charlotte on Easter Sunday, and the body of Fennell in a hotel room in another part of the city on Thursday, said Lt. Brian Crum. Both women were believed by the police to have been sex workers.
Crum said each suspect was charged with two counts of murder, one count of robbery with a dangerous weapon and one count of conspiracy to commit robbery with a dangerous weapon, as reported by CNN.
Read More: Our systems are failing Black LGBTQ youth
Police believe that Long, 21, and Brewer, 33, committed both murders together, and have no reason to believe any other parties are responsible for the deaths of the two women, though the motive for the crimes remains under investigation.
According to Crum, the incidents were isolated and present no great public threat. However, the correlation between the two cases did inspire authorities to advise Charlotte’s LGBTQ community, especially those who engage in sex work, to exercise greater caution and vigilance, as reported by CNN.
“They have to know that there is arguably never a more vulnerable time for them than tonight,” said police spokesperson Rob Tufano on Thursday. “If they see anything suspicious, if they hear anything suspicious, they’ve got to immediately call 911. This is a very critical time right now.”
Local LGBTQ advocacy group Charlotte Pride made a statement in response to the incidents. “CMPD announced this afternoon that two individuals have been arrested, who they believe are responsible for the April 4 and April 15 murders,” the group shared on Facebook. “However, we know that our trans community — and Black trans women in particular — continue to face hostile and dangerous situations.”
At the funeral held this week for Patterson, her mother Mary Patterson said “Like I told her before I put her in the ground, I don’t care if it takes every breath in my body,” according to CNN affiliate WSOC. “I said, ‘I’m getting justice.'”
“She was somebody. She was a person. She was my child,” Mary Peterson also said. “It just saddened my heart. They’re human beings, too. They deserve to be loved just like the next person,” she continued. “For them to kill by baby, they didn’t have to do that.”
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