April 24, 2024

Two people charged over death of transgender teen found dead on road after going on first date

Police in North Carolina have charged two people in connection with the murder of a transgender man after his body was found on the side of the road.

Eighteen-year-old Jacob Williamson was last seen on 30 June after he left his job at a Waffle House store in Monroe. Williamson had told friends that he was planning to go on a date with a man he had been talking to online for a month.

Throughout the date, the victim has been sharing his location with a friend but once it was turned off, authorities were not able to find him, according to Human Rights Campaign. The teen’s body was ultimately found on 4 July near a road eight miles away from Monroe in Pageland, South Carolina.

Joshua Newton, 25, has been arrested over Williamson’s death and charged with first-degree murder and obstruction of justice, according to the Union County Sheriff’s Office in North Carolina. His girlfriend Victoria Smith, 22, has also been arrested and is facing charges of obstruction of justice and accessory after the fact.

At the time of his death, Williamson was living with a friend after his family rejected him for being transgender.

“He called me and he just asked me, ‘Hey can I come and stay with you? Please, I don’t have anywhere to go,’” Promise Edwards told The Slate. “… I told Jacob, ‘I’m not really comfortable with you going [to the date].’”

She told the outlet that Williamson had told her he was going to visit an amusement park several hours away.

Ms Edwards also told WHNS that at one point during the night, she realised Williamson had stopped sharing his location. Ms Edwards said after several unanswered calls to his friend, she decided to report him missing to police.

Authorities believe that Mr Newton drove more than 100 miles to pick up Williamson and then allegedly brought him to his trailer park home.

Ms Edwards, who knew Williamson since he was a child, said she was glad her friend “had found peace” in the last month living with her. She recounted that the last words she told him were, “I love you, see you in the morning.”

“Please express to [your children] how unsafe it is to go with people online, how unsafe it is to get in the car with anybody that you do not know because this is our reality now,” Ms Edwards told WBTV. “Our reality is missing somebody that never deserved to go away like this,’ she said.”

The Union County Sheriff’s Office told The Slate there appeared to be no evidence that Williamson’s murder was a hate crime.

At a vigil on Monday, Ms Edwards said that Williamson had faced many challenges during his transition and didn’t always have the support he needed.

“When Jacob called me, there was no question as to his sexuality. It was, ‘this is my family who needs to be taken care of,’” Ms Edwards said, according to WYFF 4. “I wish people would have taken enough time to get to know his heart and who he really was instead of who the world forced him to be.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *