A 16-year-old boy has been arrested and faces second-degree murder charges after stabbing a transgender woman to death in Wichita, Kansas, according to Wichita-based ABC affiliate KAKE.
The teenager allegedly stabbed 32-year-old Tyreece “Reecey” Walker, also known as “Reese,” following an altercation on Sunday night in southwest Wichita. Police were called to an apartment complex around 9:50 p.m., where they found Walker bleeding from multiple stab wounds inflicted during the attack.
Initial media reports wrongly classified Walker’s gender as male, even after Walker’s sister told them her sister was transgender. Some media outlets are still mis-gendering her. The identity of the suspect has not been released, due to his being underage.
Wichita-based CBS affiliate KWCH, citing police records, has reported that the teenager’s mother claims her son was defending himself from being sexually assaulted by Walker, seeming to indicate that the suspect may pursue a “gay panic” defense at some point in the future. But friends of Walker say that allegation is absurd.
“That is completely 100-percent out of character for Reece. I don’t believe it for a second,” Walker’s friend Victoria, who asked that her last name not be used, told KAKE. Victoria remembers her friends as filled with empathy, someone who wanted to pursue a degree in psychology or social work to become a counselor to help out others experiencing emotionally difficult times.
Victoria also recalls that the wider Wichita community was not very nice to Walker when she was alive.
“She said a lot of people at the apartment complex or even around Wichita were constantly harassing her and just messing with her including leaving stuff by her front door,” Victoria said.
Friends of Walker’s on social media expressed sorrow at the loss of their friend. “This is so hard to deal with,” wrote Renee S Cavitt. “Man…I love you Reese you kept us laughing all the time. I’m going to miss you so much!” Demetria Fountain posted a photo of Walker with the letters “rip” and a Facebook emoticon saying she was “feeling pissed off.” Fountain also posted a short video featuring pictures of Walker, made by Jasmine Simone Fountain, set to Bone Thugs-n-Harmony’s 1995 hit “Crossroads,” with the words: “Rest in Paradise. Gone too soon…”
A GoFundMe page set up in memory of Walker says it has been created to help with funeral arrangements. The page’s creator, Victoria Thompson-Winegar, promises that all proceeds will go directly to the funeral home. So far, 15 people have donated $373.
“Reese, “like the candy,” as she introduced herself, was a loving, playful spirit who only wanted the best for others,” the page reads. “She would have given her last piece of bread to make sure someone else was not hungry. … 32 is too youg to be taken from this world, but if it must be, the least we an do is help her make a beautiful exit. … RIP Reese..you are so loved!”