Kaladaa Crowell was a 36-year-old behavioral health caseworker and mom of one child who lived with her spouse in Florida.
Two weeks ago, Crowell became the fourth black lesbian who’s brutal slaying made headlines at the end of December 2017.
The murders are not connected and the cases have to make it through the criminal justice system. Still, there is a thread of similarity running through them and LGBTQ advocacy groups say they’re among an increasing number of tragedies they ’re monitoring.
“we’ve been seeing an increase in violence against members of the LGBTQ community since the conclusion of this [presidential] election cycle,” Beverly Tillery, the executive manager of the New York City Anti-Violence Project, informed HuffPost.
“Anti-LGBTQ, immigrant and people of color rhetoric was being kicked up at that moment, and it surely has continued with [President Donald] Trump’s government,” Tillery said.
Sue Yacka-Bible, manager of communications at GLAAD, told HuffPost that the homicides are “exceptionally alarming. ”
“It’s both deeply troubling and a huge disaster for the LGBTQ communities,” she said.
Kaladaa Crowell And Kyra Inglett
On Dec. 28, police in West Palm Beach reacted to several 911 calls about a shooting that happened on the 800 block of 3rd St. Responding officers discovered Crowell dead inside her property. Her 11-year-old daughter, Kyra Inglett, was found beyond the residence. The mom and daughter had been taken, according to police. Kyra did not immediately succumb to her injuries. It wasn’t until the following day that police declared she’d died at a local hospital.
“Kaladaa was the sweetest person,” Robin Denson told the Palm Beach Post. “She was my girlfriend and that was our property. ”
Denson’s son, 26-year-old Marlin Joseph, was named a suspect in the killings. He’d allegedly moved in with the couple some 10 months earlier, after serving time behind bars for battery on a child.
As per a probable cause affidavit, Joseph and Crowell “’d been arguing throughout the day about the fact that Kyra Inglett had a poor attitude and wasn’t getting along with all the other kids who lived at the house. ”
Cops tracked down Joseph on Jan. 2 and arrested him on two points of first-degree murder. He’s being held in jail without bond.
Brandi Mells, Shanta, Shanise And Jeremiah Myers
On precisely the same day — Dec. 28 — cops in upstate New York published the identities of two adults and two kids found dead two weeks earlier at a Troy apartment.
Shanta Myers, 36, her spouse Brandi Mells, 22, and Myers’ two kids, 5-year-old Shanise Myers and 11-year-old Jeremiah Myers, had been dead for about five days before their bodies were found, police said. The victims’ feet were bound, and their throats slit, the Albany Times Union reported.
In a press conference, Troy police chief John Tedesco clarified the quadruple slayings as “dreadful” along with also an act of “savagery. ”
On Jan. 5, a Rensselaer County grand jury indicted two suspects, James White, 38, and Justin Mann, 22, on multiple counts, including murder, robbery and possession of stolen land.
The indictment alleges that the men were committing a burglary when they killed the women and kids. They left off with an Xbox and a TV, the indictment states.
White and Mann have pleaded not guilty. They have been held without bond, pending their next court appearance.
Again, on that same day — Dec. 28 — that the death count increased.
Cops at Washington, D.C., reacted to a report of gunfire on Adrian Street that evening. Upon arrival at the scene, they discovered a vehicle engulfed in flames. After the fire was extinguished, police discovered that the body of 23-year-old Kerrice Lewis inside the trunk.
Lewis had been shot multiple times, but was allegedly still alive once the vehicle was set ablaze. Witnesses told police that they heard her screaming as she strove to escape the burning automobile.
Mercedes Rouhlac told WJLA News that Lewis was her ex-girlfriend and best friend.
“No matter what, she adored me and also my son,” Rouhlac said.
Authorities stated Lewis’ slaying might be connected to others that happened earlier this season. Authorities are offering a reward of up to $25,000 for information that contributes to the arrest and conviction of a defendant.
Tillery reported that the Anti-Violence Project doesn’t specifically track cases involving black lesbian ladies. Those slayings have been grouped with total estimates of violence against everybody in the LGBTQ community. But she did say the December killings merit additional research.
“What’s certainly significant in those homicides is the nature of them are different and feels more intense,” she said. “It’s certainly significant and worth viewing what’s moving on. ”
Yacka-Bible, who worked 11 years with all the Anti-Violence Project until she joined GLAAD, stated it is difficult to monitor the entire amount of killings involving lesbian victims.
“It’so hard,” she said. “Authorities often mischaracterize lesbians as friends or roommates and in these incidences their identities are obscured. LGBTQ communities are not getting the entire picture of violence against our communities. ”
Those mistakes not just skew the numbers, but cause further heartache.
“It’s quite painful to their friends and loved ones,” Yacka-Bible said. “In a minute where they should be mourning, they’re angry about the misrepresentation. It doesn’t even provide them the ability to mourn them for who they are. ”
It’s an issue, she added, in which both police and the media can do better.
“Misrepresentations by police tend to get repeated in press accounts,” Yacka-Bible explained. “Thus, from our perspective, we challenge them to dig deeper, explore, and completely and fairly recognize the folks individuals’ve dropped. ”
‘Crisis of Violence’
Whatever the amounts or the underlying reasons, the deaths have sent shockwaves through the LGBTQ community, which Tillery states has been feeling vulnerable since the 2016 presidential election.
“We’ve seen folks throughout the nation who now feel like they’ve ever been granted some permission to act on their bigotry in manners that we haven’t seen in the past,” Tillery said. “I think there are many more instances of violence because of that. Individuals in the LGBTQ community and communities of color are experiencing much more fear and injury because of that. ”
The following week, the Anti-Violence Project will soon be releasing a Crisis of Violence report, that will provide data on famous homicides that happened from the LGBTQ community in 2017. Later this year, a second report will be issued on hate violence.
“It’ll be an eye-opener, since it will be a continuation of this story we’ve been telling since the election and it will truly show the increase,” Tillery said. “We hope to include suggestions for things that we can do collectively to tackle the violence which we’re witnessing. Ultimately, we want people to feel like we as a society can do something about it. ”