Update: The Man Who Killed Trans Woman Chynaa Carrillo Served Eight Years for Murdering His 20-Year-Old Cisgender Wife

Chynaa Carillo
Chynaa Carillo via Facebook

On Thursday, February 18, a 24-year-old trans Latina was brutally murdered in New Wilmington, a small town in rural Western Pennsylvania. Her name was Chynaa Carrillo.

The man who murdered her, Juan Carlos Hernandez, was 30 years old. He appears to have been a native of Ohio and recently returned there.

From prison. He was in prison for eight years (2013-2021) for murdering his 20-year-old wife in 2010 while they lived in North Carolina.

He served eight years for murdering his wife. He was released and he killed another woman, Chynaa.

Kandace Hernandez
Kandace Hernandez. Photo provided by her family.

His wife was named Kandace Johnston Hernandez. Her mother and other family members reached out to law enforcement and local media after learning about Chynaa’s fate. From the WNCT:

WNCT reported back then that police had been called to their home several times for domestic disputes.

“Kandace was on the phone with my husband six minutes before she was killed, wanting a bus ticket home,”(Tammy) Larew said.

In July 2011, Hernandez killed Kandace in their home. In court, he pleaded guilty to second degree murder and claimed he reacted in self defense.

The murderer also had problems with his military career at the time he murdered Kandace.

Hernandez, who was living in Campbell, Ohio, had deserted the Marine Corps just before his wife’s death, according to an article published in 2014 in the Jacksonville Daily News in North Carolina. He was wanted at that time on a federal warrant for desertion.

There’s more. From WCTI:

As part of Hernandez’s plea deal, two other charges against him were dropped. Those charges involved an alleged assault on a government official while Hernandez was in jail for his wife’s murder.

He deserted the Marines, killed his 20-year-old wife, and served eight years. He attacked someone while he was in jail waiting his trial in that crime. After his release, he moved back to Ohio and killed again. The exact timeframe is a little unclear, but what is clear to me is that these ARE hate crimes. He brutally murdered two women, one cisgender and one transgender.

He can’t be held accountable for his actions because he is dead and gone. But someone should be held accountable for devaluing Kandace’s life so that this monster walked free here in Western Pennsylvania to brutally murder again.

Who determined that sentence? Was he on parole after his release? Was anyone tracking him? Did he act violently in prison? Did he serve time for desertion?

He likely didn’t murder Kandace, have a peaceful eight years paying his debt to society, get out and then snap when he murdered Chynaa. That makes no logical sense.

No, he was a killer set free by a very broken system, a system that failed Kandace and Chynaa. That’s where we need to turn our attention. He’s dead so there’s no way to hold his accountable. When people talk about reforming the prison industrial complex, they are referencing the inequities that lock low-level offenders up for years over issues like posting bond but let evil men like this go unfettered.

Kandace and Chynaa were both young women. That’s what they have in common. Don’t try to tell me he killed his own wife over rent money (per the article above) and then just suddenly killed a trans woman because  <insert trope of your choice:> and they are not related. They ARE related, IMHO.

And we need to do a much better job protecting all women, cis and trans, from violent predatory men who see all of us as disposable commodities.

Let me say thank you to Kandace’s family for coming forward to advocate for her and for Chynaa. That had to hurt and dredge up painful memories. But your information is invaluable. I hope that provides a modicum of comfort to you.

“A few people ask me, ‘Do you feel that you got justice now because he’s gone?’ No. I mean, he’s gone, but he still did what he did to my daughter and to Chyna,” (Tammy) Larew said.

Rest in power, Chynaa and Kandace. I hope you find each other and find peace together knowing your loved ones are seeking justice in your names.

We will continue to follow this story. I hope an investigative journalist with more resources and acumen than me will be able to put this story together. And I hope anyone else who has information about these crimes or other potential crimes involving this man will contact New Wilmington Police. It is possible he hurt other women.


Two women
Kandace (l) and Chynaa (r)


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