Metro Weekly

Austin homeless man charged with brutally stabbing homeless transgender woman

Alleged suspect has a record of six aggravated assaults, including at least two other stabbings

Photo: FOX 7/KTBC.

A homeless man in Austin, Texas, has been arrested and charged with stabbing a homeless transgender woman, leaving her in critical condition as she suffers from multiple injuries.

Austin Police say Darnel Esco began bothering acquaintances at an encampment along the Waller Creek Trail in downtown Austin, near the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH), asking for money and drugs.

He then asked where a homeless transgender woman slept, and threatened to stab her. He then attacked her, stabbing her so viciously that it caused an inch of her intestines to hang out. The woman, whose name is not being released at this time, was hospitalized and treated for two stab wounds, bone fractures to the back of her head, and a damaged diaphragm. She also had a portion of her spleen removed, reports the Austin-based FOX News affiliate KTBC. She remains in critical condition.

Police arrested Esco, charging him with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. His next scheduled appearance in court is on Aug. 14.

Paperwork filed in Travis County Court last week shows that Esco has been arrested for six aggravated assaults, including one involving an elderly victim. In 2018, he pleaded guilty to assault with injury after stabbing someone on East 7th Street, near the ARCH. In 2019 he was arrested and charged with aggravated assault after stabbing someone else at the ARCH.

“If you stabbed somebody as seriously as you stabbed this person, where someone has lost intestines and almost died, that person to me deserves ten to thirty years in a penitentiary — especially with that person’s history,” Ken Casaday, the president of the Austin Police Association told KTBC. “He needs to be in penitentiary for a long time.”

Some homeless Austinites living in encampments near the crime scene say they knew of Esco’s past criminal record and were upset that he had been released prior to last week’s stabbing.

Ann Howard, the executive director of Austin’s Ending Community Homelessnesss Coalition, says those experiencing homelessness can often be at risk of violence.

“I think a real reason to get people off the street is because of safety. And it’s safety for those who are experiencing homelessness who are often the victims of crimes, not the perpetrators,” Howard said. “We’ve got to do a better job of getting people off the street, into safe and decent housing so they’re not susceptible to crime.”

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John Riley is the local news reporter for Metro Weekly. He can be reached at

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