A 17-year-old boy has been charged with the murder of 24-year-old transgender woman Dejanay Stanton in Chicago.
The teenager, who was charged as an adult, was identified in local news outlets such as the Chicago Sun Times as Tremon T. Hill.
Speaking at a bail hearing on Sunday (January 13), prosecutors said Hill knew Stanton and the two had been involved in a sexual relationship since July.
Investigators found a text Hill sent Stanton the morning of her death, asking her to meet him in a lot in the 4000 block of South Calumet Avenue, where her body was found later that day.
“This young lady was special and so innocent. One of the sweetest presence I’ve seen and known!”
— Dejanay Stanton’s friend Trisha Holloway
The more than 400 messages exchanged between the two between July and the day of Stanton’s murder also indicated Hill was uneasy with Stanton being a trans woman.
Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Britt Steinberg said that, at one point, Hill asked Stanton to delete photos of him from her phone, which she did, and told her their relationship was making him feel suicidal.
Steinberg also said a police search of Hill’s home found pants with “small red stains” and other clothing matching the outfit he was wearing on the day of the murder, as filmed by surveillance cameras.
Judge Mary C. Marubio ordered Hill to be detained without bail, but the teen is scheduled for a review of his bail on Monday (January 14).
Several friends of Stanton welcomed news of the arrest on social media, hoping that the trial would bring justice to the victim and her family.
The murder of transgender Chicago woman Dejanay Stanton
Stanton’s body was found laying on the ground outside of her car, which was left with its doors open and a bag and mobile phone inside, on August 30 morning. She had a gunshot wound to the head.
Her family and friends held a vigil in her honour and dozens of people left tributes on social media remembering the young woman, who also had a Facebook account under the name De’janay Lanorra.
Friends described her as a sweet, kind and loving person. “This young lady was special and so innocent. One of the sweetest presence I’ve seen and known!” her friend Trisha Holloway wrote.
Stanton’s murder took place on the same day as that of another young trans woman, 18-year-old Vontashia Bell. Their deaths marked the 17th and the 18th known killing of a transgender person in the US in 2018.
Black queer activist LaSaia Honey Wade remembered both women in a touching statement on Facebook.
“My sisters are being killed, Vontashia Bell in Shreveport, LA and Dejanay Stanton here in Chicago tonight we mourn, we cry and we tell the ancestors to now watch over them. My heart is hurting so much,” she wrote.
Commenting on the two killings, LGBT+ rights group Human Rights Campaign said in a statement: “The deaths of Dejanay Stanton and Vontashia Bell underscore the urgent need to address the epidemic of violence against the transgender community across the U.S.”