Dee Whigham, a 25-year-old transgender woman, was gruesomely stabbed 119 times in a hotel room in St. Martin, Mississippi on July 23, according to WBTV. Now, authorities are questioning Dwanya Hickerson, 20, a Navy sailor and the lone suspect in custody, about the brutal slaying. Hickerson was arrested two days after the killing and faces a capital murder charge, writes the television news outlet.
At a hearing on Monday in a Jackson County courtroom, Deputy Leo Allen of the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department explained in explicit detail what occurred when authorities responded to the scene at a Best Western hotel near the Gulf Coast. According to Allen, Whigham was stabbed multiple times in the face, while her throat was slashed three times, the report says.
According to Mic, Whigham was in town with friends to attend the 7th Annual Gulf Coast Black Rodeo in nearby Biloxi. Surveillance video shows Whigham and Hickerson arriving at her hotel room around 8:30 p.m. About 23 minutes later, the tape shows Hickerson leaving the hotel alone, the report says.
Friends say they found Whigham’s body around 9:45 p.m. when they returned to the room. After police arrived, they discovered Whigham’s Coach purse was missing, along with her cell phone.
Investigators recovered a 10-inch, fixed blade Gerber knife on the beach near where Whigham was stationed. Hickerson’s instructor on base identified him to the police. Police also recovered a bloody shirt thrown in a trash bag near Hickerson’s barracks after reviewing video footage.
Whigham’s friends described her as a “lovely” person who “lit up the room.” She worked as a registered nurse at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
LGBTQ advocates hope to bring awareness to Whigham’s tragic death by using the hashtag #SayHerName.
At a vigil held in her honor, one LGBTQ supporter told WLOX that the fight for equality has significant mountains to climb.
“It just shows that hate and the seed of hate just grows and grows and then people just lose their life in an instant, not because of them, but because someone else hated them,” the advocate said.