Metro Weekly

Trans Woman Murdered While Sleeping Outside Miami City Ballet

53-year-old Gregory Fitzgerald Gilbert allegedly beat Andrea Doria Dos Passos to death with a pipe while she slept.

Andrea Doria Dos Passos, Gregory Gibert – Photo: 7 News Miami

A 53-year-old man has been charged with first-degree murder for bludgeoning an unhoused transgender woman to death as she slept on the front steps of the Miami City Ballet in Miami Beach, Florida.

Following a preliminary hearing last week, Miami-Dade Circuit Court Judge Mindy Glazer ordered Gregory Fitzgerald Gilbert to be held in prison without bail as he awaits trial for the murder of 37-year-old Andrea Doria Dos Passos.

According to the Miami Herald, Glazer upped the charge against Gilbert from second-degree murder to first-degree murder based on actions that appeared to show intent.

“It looks like he defiled the body by doing other things to the victim,” Glazer said.

Glazer said a judge would likely also address a current probation violation against Gilbert, who has a history of convictions for various violent and non-violent crimes. 

According to a police arrest report, Dos Passos arrived at the Miami City Ballet around midnight on April 21 and lay down on the steps to sleep.

Surveillance video near the ballet hall reportedly captured Gilbert arriving and surveying the area. He then retrieved a metal pipe, approached Dos Passos, and repeatedly beat her head and face with the pipe while she slept. 

Gilbert was seen on surveillance video disposing of the pipe allegedly used to kill Dos Passos in a trash bin. Police later retrieved the pipe.

A ballet employee discovered Dos Passos’s body at 6:45 a.m. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

Her body was partially covered by a sweater, and two wooden sticks had been placed into her nostrils, with one stick exiting her face just over her right eye, while the other appeared lodged in a nose cavity. She also suffered a puncture wound to her chest.

Police issued a “be on the lookout” alert for a Black male in a black shirt, red shorts, and red shoes.

Detectives linked Gilbert to the crime based on a physical description of the man in the video and a prior arrest record. They located him at one of his known addresses, reportedly wearing clothing that matched the surveillance video, including blood-stained shoes and shorts.

TV news outlet WSVN reported that Gilbert was out on probation on the morning of the murder.

There appears to be no connection between Dos Passos and Gilbert, and the motivation for the murder is unclear. Due to that lack of a connection, Gilbert has not been charged with a hate crime, which could lead to enhanced penalties if he is convicted of the killing.

“At this time, there is no evidence to suggest that Andrea was targeted because of her sexuality or gender,” Miami Beach Police Chief Wayne Jones said in a statement. “However, we understand the concerns within the LGBTQIA+ community. And I want to emphasize that MBPD is committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all our community members.”

Dos Passos reportedly had been struggling with mental health issues since age 25, and had bounced from place to place. She lived intermittently with her mother, Ana, and her stepfather, Victor Van Gilst, at their home in Coral Gables, Florida, then moved to San Francisco, where she transitioned.

Victor Van Gilst told the Herald that Dos Passos spent eight months at Agape, a Miami nonprofit that offers a residential treatment program for women struggling with substance abuse, mental illness, and co-occurring disorders. She then moved to a halfway house in Miami Gardens, but the house was sold, and she ended up on the street.

About a week before her death, she was discharged from the psychiatric unit of Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach, according to Victor Van Gilst. 

Ana Van Gilst told the Herald that she had asked her daughter if she wanted to return home, but Dos Passos told her she “wanted to be free.”

Her mother recounted, “She wanted to be on the beach. She wanted to swim.”

A  spokesperson for the city of Miami Beach said the city’s homeless outreach team and a contracted provider, New Hope, had sought to connect Dos Passos with shelter options, but she “declined services” two separate times.

Edward Summers, the executive director of the Miami Beach-based LGBTQ organization Pridelines, said he and other staffers had tried to connect Dos Passos with shelter beds, but she repeatedly declined, saying she didn’t want to be bound by curfews and other restrictions that shelters typically impose on residents.

She also said staying in a shelter wouldn’t allow her to be fully herself.

Summers noted that many of Pridelines’ LGBTQ clients have left shelters because of concerns over safety or due to harassment by other residents, noting that there are no LGBTQ-affirming homeless shelters in Miami-Dade County. 

“[Dos Passos] was really a free spirit and wanted to just live her life on her terms,” Summers said.

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