Keisha Wells of Cleveland is 14th Trans Person Killed in 2018

Just hours after writing about Cathalina Christina James’ homicide in Jacksonville, FL comes word of another sister whose life was taken. 58 year old Keisha Wells of Cleveland was found dead on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland early in the morning of Sunday, June 24.

Please note that the primary source uses Keisha’s deadname as does Keisha’s family.

Wells was found dead about 7 a.m. in the parking lot of an apartment complex on Detroit Avenue. Police said she suffered what appeared to be a gunshot wound to the abdomen.

Eleven bullet casings were found at the scene, according to police reports. Officers also collected a leopard print shoe, a sweatshirt and a wig at the scene.

She had no identification with her at the time, which caused investigators issues in identifying her, police said.

Keisha was known as Pokey and much beloved by friends and family. She has experienced a lot of personal loss recently, including the sudden deaths of her mother and brother as well as her sister lapsing into a coma. My God, that’s a lot to endure.

Keisha’s best friend of four decades, Sheila Jones, shared how much she loved dressing well.

“(She) always loved the most expensive high heels and stilettos, the hats and (her) expensive sunglasses,” Jones said. “(She) was the nicest person ever. But (she) was a tough cookie. (She) wouldn’t back down from anyone.” 

No arrests have been made in the case. She’s the seventh person to be killed in Cleveland in the last six days.

No photograph of Keisha is yet available. I am in touch with trans activists in Cleveland to get more information.

Rest in power, Keisha. You walked with grace and humor even under great duress. You deserve dignity in your death and we will do everything possible to seek justice in your name.

The list that I’ve curateded of trans people killed in 2018 so far. Note that people and outlets reporting on these crimes have different numbers based on different factors – some don’t include officer related shootings, others don’t include non-trans GNC individuals, while others include any violent death including death by suicide. The most important thing that unites us all is that we want the violence to stop. We need to keep asking ‘Where is the outrage?’ During 2017, we lost at least 25 trans neighbors. May 2018 be more merciful. Sadly we are on track to meet or exceed the previous year.

  1. Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien – Massachusetts (January 6) 42 years old
  2. Viccky Gutierrez – Los Angeles (January 9), 33 years old
  3. Tonya ‘Kita’ Harvey – Buffalo (February 6), 35 years old
  4. Celine Walker – Jacksonville, Florida (February 4), 36 years old
  5. Phylicia Mitchell – Cleveland (February 23), 46 years old
  6. Zakaria Fry – Stanley, New Mexico (February 19), 28 years old
  7. Amia Tyrae Berryman – Baton Rouge (March 26), 28 years old
  8. Sasha Wall – Chesterfield, South Carolina (April 1), 29 years old
  9. Karla Patricia Pavon-Flores – Dallas (May 9), 26 years old
  10. Nino Fortson – Atlanta (May 13), 36 yeas old
  11. Gigi Pierce – Portland (May 21), 28 years old
  12. Antash’a English – Jacksonville (June 1), 38 years old
  13. Cathalina Christina James – Jacksonville (June 24), 24 years old
  14. Keisha Wells – Cleveland (June 24), 58 years old

Rest in Power



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  • I feel bad for the girls. I myself is a transgender from a small Native American community called Tohajiilee in New Mexico. Where everyone knows you and what family you come from. Very not good. Well, for me. Growing up here was so creepy and sad because they treated and still kind of treat you like if you were from another planet. Very not good. Our nearest town is Albuquerque. Even there a lot of evil people. Especially where most girls hang out which is called THE WAR ZONE. but we manage to stand our grounds when we are not by ourselves. But when we are alone especially at night……. Scary. Well just wanted to say or be part of this post. I am 45 years old and proud to be a TRANSGENDER. Wish you all the best. oxox, BERONICA STARR DURAN

    • I’m aware that a trans woman named Nicole was found in that time frame. I have not yet read that her death has been ruled a homicide. If you have other details, please let me know. Thank you for honoring her life and acknowledging her death.

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