Two Trans Latina Women From NYC Murdered in Puerto Rico

Two trans Latinas murdered in Puerto Rico
Photos: via Facebook

Serena Angelique Velazquez, 32, of Queens and Layla Pelaez, 21, of the Bronx were visiting their hometowns in Puerto Rico when they were found dead on Wednesday, April 22, 2020.

Layla was originally from San Juan. Serena’s Facebook profile identifies her as being both of Russian and Latina origin, fluid in three languages.

Their bodies were found under a bridge in Humacao on the southeast coast of Puerto Rico. Both of their bodies were found burned and shot. Authorities are not yet certain the specific cause of death.

From The Advocate:

Velázquez was reportedly a visitor to the island, as she was holding an airline ticket to return to Queens, N.Y., according to Primera Hora. Pelaez also was apparently a visitor, having been in Puerto Rico two months, the paper reports.

Police were reluctant to release the names of the deceased, but they were identified by LGBTQ rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano, who said police had spoken with their families. He and other activists urged the police to investigate the possibility that the murders were motivated by anti-trans bias.

Sadly, the women were misgendered and deadnamed by Puerto Rican media and law enforcement. No details yet on final arrangements.

Two other trans women have been murdered in Puerto Rico in 2020. Together, the four women represent 50% of the total reported deaths in 2020 to death.

Rest in power, Serena and Layla. You deserved a long happy life and dignity in your death. My heart aches for the suffering you endured in your final hours. You are forever in our hearts.


My list of transgender, gender non-conforming, and non-binary neighbors who have lost their lives to violent deaths in the US during 2020.

  1. Dustin Parker – McAlester, Oklahoma. January 1, 2020. Age 25.
  2. Alexa Negron Luciano – Toa Baja, Puerto Rico. February 24, 2020. Age 29.
  3. Yampi Mendez Arocho – Moca, Puerto Rico, March 5, 2020. Age 19.
  4. Monica Diamond – Charlotte, North Carolina. March 18, 2020. Age 34.
  5. Lexi – Harlem, New York City, New York. March 28, 2020. Age 33.
  6. Johanna Metzger – Baltimore, Maryland. April 1, 2020. Age 25.
  7. Serena Angelique Velazquezz – Puerto Rico. April 22, 2020. Age 32.
  8. Layla Pelaez – Puerto Rico. April 22, 2020. Age 21.