6 arrested for murder of bisexual Alabama teen Nick Hawkins


After missing for three days, bisexual Alabama teen Nick Hawkins was found dead in an "illegal dump site" in Alabama's Walker County. Now, as many as six people have been charged in connection to the young man's brutal murder.

The 19-year-old was on his way home from a beauty pageant on the night of Feb. 13 when he called his mother and told her, "Someone is trying to kill me." After Nick's body was discovered, the Dora Police Department arrested Joshua Adam Reese, 21, on an outstanding warrant and labeled him a person of interest. In a news conference held on Feb. 26, police officially announced that they'd charged Reese with murder.

"We feel like our investigation shows that Joshua Reese is the person who shot and murdered Nicholas Hawkins," Walker County Sheriff Jim Underwood said at the news conference.

In addition to Reese, two other men -- Danny Lee Jarvis, 22, and Cory Daniel Conner, 28 -- have been charged with murder in Hawkins' death. The sheriff's office has also charged Colton Stephen Echols, 20, Tessa Jean Wise, 23, and Lawanda Marie Reese, 39, with hindering prosecution in Hawkins' murder. Lawanda Reese, Joshua Reese's mother, is said to have lied to investigators to aid her son.

Nick's friends told Buzzfeed News that the teenager came out as bisexual while in high school. "He didn't care who knew," Sydney Rhodes, 18, said. "He would do my make up every single time I went to his house," said Rhodes.

Nick was proud of his bisexuality, a part of him that's been largely erased in news coverage surrounding his death, but he experienced so much bullying for being himself that he eventually dropped out of school. Hawkins was an aspiring cosmetologist and was just weeks away from obtaining his GED.

At a vigil for the teen, his older brother shared, "I know anybody who met him knows the person that he was, the bubbly personality he had. Walk in and he just, I don't want to say life of the party but...he stole the show. He had a wonderful personality. He had a wonderful smile...And even though I'm sad, I can't help but smile because I think about all the wonderful things that he had done, and all the people and lives that he had touched."

The New Civil Rights Movement noted that recent local news reports about the investigation into Nick's death have erased the fact that he was bisexual. National bisexual advocacy group BiNet USA shared in a statement why it is important to refer to bisexual identites of people lost to violence:

Although not enough information has been released to know if it was an act of violence due to his sexual orientation, it is important to note statistics show biphobia plays a big part in bullying and violence. It is equally important to note the bisexual erasure in several articles reporting on Nick, that don't include his orientation...Nick's orientation mattered to him, and his loss is certainly a headline for our entire community.

A study done by The Williams Institute in 2012 found that, although "gay men, lesbians, and bisexuals make up 3.5% of the population, sexual orientation-based hate crimes make up roughly 30% of reported hate crimes each year." Additionally, the Anti-Violence Project's 2014 report determined that "bisexual survivors of violence respresented 11.82% of survivors and victims of anti-LGBT violence in 2014, an increase from 2013 with 8.95%."

At the time of writing, authorities have not released any evidence or information regarding a motive for Nick's murder. LGBT Alabamians are not considered a protected class under the state's hate crime laws.

 

To learn more about being bi, visit glaad.org/bisexual