CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE)- Two men are in the Mecklenburg County Jail tonight, charged in the murder of two transgender women.
It’s a story that has left that community reeling and in fear, and it’s not the only case in recent memory involving a transperson of color.
One of the suspects in these cases is a sex offender. The other is a convicted felon. Both are accused in the murders of Jaida Peterson and Remy Fennell, which have left a lot of fear in the transgender community here, with many saying it’s just traumatic.”
For those in the trans community in Charlotte, this has been a time of high tension.
“Our trans women of color are more fearful now than they are any other day,” said Rell Lowery, a tras-liaison with Charlotte Black Pride.
For those in the trans community in Charlotte, this has been a time of high tension and even now with the arrests in the murder cases involving that community, that tension has not eased.
“It’s far from over,” Lowery said. “We have a lot of work to do.”
Lowery has watched as the cases of Jaida Peterson and Remy Fennell have developed. CMPD says both were killed at hotels within days of each other by two men, Dontarius Long and Joel Brewer–both of whom have violent felony criminal records. Long is also a registered sex offender.
“We know they’ve been together on these two occasions. They went there together. They left together,” said Lt. Brian Crum with CMPD.
Violence against trans women of color is more common than people realize and in Charlotte, there’s at least one case that is still under investigation involving a transgender person, nearly two years on.
Back in 2019, Bubba Walker’s body was found in a fire at a home in southwest Charlotte. Friends and family still believe Walker was targeted and killed and the case, to this day, remains open.
With Peterson and Fennell, CMPD says the two were sex workers, but Lowery says what they may have done for work should not matter.
“Above everything else, these individuals are human beings,” Lowery said.
He says action needs to be taken to protect them.
“We, as a city, need to be willing to stand together for these women, whether you’ve never met a transgender person, or don’t know what the word ‘transgender’ means.”
Lowery tells us Charlotte Black Pride is working with other LGBTQ groups in Charlotte to take a more active role in addressing the homicides, and also what can be done to help the trans community here. They hope to have that worked out in the coming days and weeks.