Michelle Davis, mother of Ukea Davis (Michel du Cille/The Washington Post via Getty)
Police in Washington DC have finally admitted that the killings of two Black trans teenagers almost 20 years ago were “clearly a hate crime”.
Ukea Davis, 18, and Stephanie Thomas, 19, were found dead in a car in 2002. Both had been shot at least 10 times.
Now, almost two decades on, police in Washington DC have finally found a suspect in the case – but he died three years ago in a fatal shooting, the Washington Post reports.
D.C. Police Chief Peter Newsham admitted that the murder of the two best friends was “clearly a hate crime” and said suspect Michael Dupree Price had been with the women on the night they were killed.
Police identify suspect in 2002 murder of two trans women in Washington DC – but he was killed three years ago.
Police tracked down two new witnesses in the cold case who told them that Price killed the women when he discovered that they were trans.
But police were too late to bring Price to justice. He was shot dead in May 2017, aged 36.
Authorities began investigating the case again earlier this year when Detective Danny Whalen found a letter that referenced a person who allegedly had information about the killings.
The letter was discovered in an old file, but had never been followed up on.
He’s been deceased since 2017, but what was he doing since 2002? Why wasn’t he brought to justice?
Investigators subsequently tracked down two new witnesses, who each told Whalen that Price “essentially told him what he did”.
“I think it’s a situation of how a fresh set of eyes looking at an old case can be valuable,” Newsham said.
“For the families that are involved, the only thing we can really give to them is finding out who is responsible for their loved one’s death.”
The families are still waiting for closure.
Queen Washington, the mother of Stephanie Thomas, disputed the idea that the women’s killer attacked them when he discovered that they were trans, and claimed everyone in their locality knew about their gender identity.
She said her daughter came out as trans when she was 12 or 13 and had experienced extensive bullying in their neighbourhood.
Washington believes strongly that her daughter was killed as an act of hate.
Meanwhile, Michelle Davis, Ukea’s mother, said: “I just want to know, who was this person? Was there another person?
“He’s been deceased since 2017, but what was he doing since 2002? Why wasn’t he brought to justice?”
Davis and Thomas met four years before their murder and went on to become best friends. They later rented an apartment together.
Their deaths shocked the local community, but little headway was made by investigators for many years.