Transgender community mourns another Philly slaying

Posted: February 25, 2016

Maya Young had a distinctive birthmark: One side of her face was light and the other dark, with a line down the middle separating the brown tones.

"She looked like chocolate and caramel," said Anthony Harper, a longtime friend and former roommate of the 25-year-old transgender woman. He used to call her "Twix," like the candy bar. "She was sweet, like candy," he said.

On Tuesday, Philadelphia police confirmed that Young had been stabbed to death late Saturday in the city's Frankford section. Her killer and motive were still a mystery. Her birth name was Norman Lindsey, police said.

"The community is heartbroken once again with the senseless slaying of another transgender woman of color," Naiymah Sanchez, a coordinator with the TransHealth Information Project in Philadelphia, wrote on Facebook on Monday afternoon.

On Facebook, Young posted that she was originally from Vineland, N.J., and attended Buena Regional High School in Atlantic County. She listed her most recent home as Philadelphia. Her last public update was from 2012.

Young was stabbed in the neck and chest sometime before 11:50 p.m. Saturday, police said. Officers were called to the 4900 block of Griscom Street and found her nearby in the 4800 block of Penn Street.

Police took her to Aria Health-Frankford Campus, less than two blocks away. She was pronounced dead at 12:21 a.m.

Nellie Fitzpatrick, director of the Mayor's Office of LGBT Affairs, said, "My heart is with her sister, family, friends, and community," adding, "We must work harder as a city, state, nation, and society" to protect and support transgender people.

Harper, 32, recalled Young as funny and outgoing. "She loved people and she loved being around people," he said. "She was a dreamer."

They met around five years ago at 13th and Walnut Streets in Center City.

"She asked me for the time," Harper said. "I noticed the birthmark on her face and I told her it was beautiful."

Several years later, they became roommates in West Philadelphia, Harper said.

Young loved music and video games, and especially playing Magic: The Gathering, the fantasy-based trading-card game.

The last time they saw each other was about a year ago before Young got in trouble with the law.

Court records show Young was sentenced last July to six to 12 months in county prison for prostitution, and had previously served probation for the same charge.

The city was offering a $20,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of her killer. Tipsters are asked to call homicide detectives at 215-686-3334 or -3335.

At least 21 transgender people were killed in the United States last year, the highest total on record, according to the Human Rights Campaign.

Two were slain in Philadelphia, including Kiesha Jenkins, 22, who was beaten, robbed, and gunned down in Logan in October, and London Kiki Chanel, 21, who was stabbed to death last May in North Philadelphia.

Sanchez lamented that some friends on Facebook were posting about Young "saying 'Finally Free.' It's so sad that we feel death is freedom," she wrote. "It's sad to say it's becoming the norm and even harder as a transgender woman to wake up every day with fearing someone may ultimately feel they want to take our life."

Other transgender women killed in Philadelphia in recent years include Diamond Williams, 31, found dismembered in Strawberry Mansion in July 2013; Kyra Cordova, 27, shot to death in Frankford in September 2012; and Stacey Blahnik Lee, 31, strangled in her Point Breeze bedroom in October 2010.

Harper said Young "was loved, and she will be sorely missed."

bmoran@phillynews.com

215-854-5983

@RobertMoran215

Staff writer Dana DiFilippo contributed to this article.

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