Transgender teen Mercedes Williamson murdered in Mississippi

Earlier this month, George County police in Mississippi found the body of 17-year-old transgender woman Mercedes Williamson, who was reportedly murdered on May 30th, 2015. Josh Brandon Vallum, 28, has been charged with her murder since. Vallum had confessed the murder and location of her body two days later to his father, who then reported it to the police. Vallum is reported to have been an openly longtime member of the Latin Kings street gang in Alabama, and to have known Williamson was transgender before the murder. He is now being kept in George County jail on $1 million bond.

Williamson marks the ninth known transgender woman murdered in the U.S. in 2015, not including those misgendered, not reported on, or not regarded as transgender women in reports. Transgender advocates have labeled this as an epidemic of transphobic violence that needs to be put to an end. GLAAD has created a guide for reporters covering stories involving transgender people who are victims of crime, which can be found here.