Navy seaman arrested for murder of transgender woman in Mississippi

Dwanya Hickerson

Dwanya Hickerson Sun Herald: Amanda McCoy

A judge is set to arraign Navy seaman Dwanya Hickerson, 20, Wednesday afternoon for the capital murder and robbery of Dee “DJ” Whigham, 25, a transgender woman found stabbed to death at a Biloxi hotel, reported the Sun Herald.

Dee “DJ” WhighamDenisha Whigham

Dee “DJ” Whigham

Whigham, a registered nurse who worked at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg and lived in Shubuta, reportedly was in Biloxi with friends and co-workers to attend the Gulf Coast Black Rodeo.

A friend discovered her body in the hotel room they shared at the Best Western in St. Martin Saturday night, and called police. A surveillance camera captured the image of a man wearing a green shirt entering the hotel at approximately 8:35 p.m., and exiting the hotel without the green shirt at around 9 p.m.

Jaxco homicideJackson County, Miss. Sheriff

Henderson was arrested Monday and is being held without bond. He is at press time reported to be an active duty naval recruit, although Lt. Cmdr. Kate Meadows of the Naval Education Affairs and Training Command told the Sun Herald that could change pending the investigation.

According to Meadows, enlisted in the Navy in Georgia on Sept. 15, 2015, and enrolled in the weather forecaster apprentice course. He was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi.

“This is a very tragic incident and our prayers and our thoughts are with both the families involved,” said Meadows. “The Navy will decide how to move forward,” Meadows said. She expects a decision will be made in the next few days about Hickerson’s status in the Navy.

A candlelight vigil is set for Wednesday evening at 7 p.m. at Lighthouse Community Church in Biloxi to remember Whigham.

“She will be remembered at Forrest Health as an excellent nurse who was well-loved by her patients,” said Forrest Health CEO Evan Dillary, in a statement to the Sun Herald. “I know Dee will be missed by her co-workers, supervisors, and the Forrest Health family.”

“I just can’t believe [she] is gone forever,” Whigham’s sister, Denisha, posted on social media, as reported by The Advocate. “I love you and you will be missed.”

The website noted that, although relatives misgendered Whigham, the Sun Herald accurately identified Whigham as the woman she was, in stark contrast to too many cases of transgender homicide. Whigham is the 16th trans person murdered in 2016, according to The Advocate. The Sun Herald noted that although sheriff’s deputies first reported her to be male, they noted her to be a transgender woman following interviews with her family.

Whigham’s family set up a Go Fund Me account to help cover funeral expenses. For more information, click here.

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