Metro Weekly

Two men arrested in slaying of transgender woman Keyonna Blakeney

A 21-year-old and a 17-year old face first-degree murder and armed robbery charges

Keith Renier (Photo: Montgomery County Police Department).
Keith Renier (Photo: Montgomery County Police Department).

Montgomery County Police have arrested two men in the murder of transgender woman Keyonna Blakeney at a Red Roof Inn in Rockville last month.

Police issued warrants for the arrest of Keith Christopher Renier, 21, of Southeast Washington, and Arbra Arnie Bethea, 17, also of Southeast Washington. Officers from Montgomery County Police’s Repeat Offenders Section, with the assistance of U.S. Marshals, apprehended the two men in Washington on Tuesday, charging them with first-degree murder, armed robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. Bethea, despite being under 18, is being charged as an adult.

Blakeney was found dead in her hotel room shortly before noon on Saturday April 16 after hotel staff reported a death at the Red Roof Inn. The Office of the Chief Medical Examiner later ruled Blakeney’s death a homicide by multiple sharp force injuries.

According to a press release from Montgomery County Police, investigators have determined that Blakeney and several acquaintances were renting rooms at the Red Roof Inn to engage in prostitution. During the early morning hours of April 16, the two suspects were involved in an altercation with Blakeney, who ended up being stabbed multiple times. She later succumbed to her injuries in her hotel room.

Last month, local transgender activists held a vigil, along with members of Blakeney’s family, parents of transgender individuals, and residents of Montgomery County, to call attention to the violence that transgender women often face. They also called upon the wider community and political leaders to stand up against various forms of discrimination and marginalization that can lead transgender people to put themselves into dangerous situations where they can become the target of violence. 

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