19-year-old Clay Stephens was shot to death in the early morning of Easter Sunday in Lawton, Oklahoma by a man with whom he allegedly had a sexual relationship.
A 19 year old white cisgender gay male was killed in the early hours of Easter morning, April 9, in Lawton, Oklahoma. His name was Clayton (Clay) Stephens.
According to a release shared from the police department, officers responded to Southwest Coombs Road for a report of a possible deceased person around 7:30 a.m. Sunday, April 9.
Clay was last seen Saturday evening at the home of friends. He left, stating he would return soon.
According to KSWO, court records show Clay was found dead with a gunshot wound to his face. The warrant affidavit states this was the cause of death.
Police have identified a suspect, Tawann Richardon, 24, with whom police claim Clay was involved in a secret intimate relationship. They are searching for him. Richardson is wanted for First Degree Murder, Unlawful Removal of a Body and Possession of a Firearm of a Felony Conviction.
Richardson pled guilty to two counts of Assault with a Deadly Weapon in 2018 in Comanche County and was sentenced to a 10 year suspended sentence.
Through interviews, investigators learned Stephens and Richardson had been in a sexual relationship.. [Police] stated video surveillance from Stephens’ home showed Richardson picked him up in a Chrysler Pacifica early Sunday morning.
According to the affidavit, the Chrysler was found Friday in Vernon, Texas. A search of the vehicle revealed blood inside and outside the vehicle, the detective stated.
Video surveillance from where Richardson had been staying showed him return Sunday morning and he wasn’t wearing a shirt or jacket he’d been seen in the night before.
Investigators spoke with a friend of Richardson’s who, he said, had intended to beat Stephens up but “it had gone too far and a gunshot had been fired,” the affidavit states.SWOK News
Gone too far? He’s on the run with a pregnant woman living in his home after murdering his gay male lover in a brutal encounter. We have no way of knowing yet if she was an accessory or complicit in the crime, but I do know that baby doesn’t deserve any of this. Reports indicate the abandoned vehicle was registered in her name.
Clay was born and raised in Dallas, Texas. He relocated to Lawton to live with his grandparents and complete high school. Friends say he was very close to his grandmother in particular and took care of her. They report he had recently moved out of their home and into a friend’s home.
“His grandmother though he loved her so much he made sure he talked to her everyday or went to visit her,” says his friend Hannah Sophia, 19, of Fort Worth.
Clay enjoyed his work, cooking (fond of wings), music, and movies like other typical teens his age, a “pretty normal peaceful life” his friend says. He wasn’t into partying and has a small group of close friends. Clay was a fan of Rihanna, Nicki Minaj, and Cardi B.
Clay continued to grieve the unexpected death of his cousin, Hailey Watts who was shot to death at age 18 in 2021 in Fort Worth. It is heartbreaking – beyond heartbreaking – to lose two teens in your family to gun violence in a two year span. It does not seem that police have made an arrest in Hailey’s death.
He is the second LGBTQIA+ teenager whose murder by gunshot has been reported in a little more than two weeks. 18 year old Tasiyah ‘Siyah’ Woodland died in Mechanicsville, Maryland, on March 24, 2023. While Clayton did not identify as trans, two teens in that short a period of time dying such violent deaths involving guns is so very sad. And possibly preventable if leaders took gun violence as seriously as some people take banning books and drag queens. Clay and Siyah were so young. They should have had their whole lives ahead of them to grow and experience the world.
As the anti-trans/anti-LGBTQ rhetoric, especially around youth, escalates in this country, we can expect more reports like this. Fueling self-loathing, instilling disdain for and ‘othering’ LGBTQ people will only lead to more violence, more ha6m. According to a tracking project, 474 pieces of legislation have been introduced nationwide targeting the LGBTQ community, in particular QTPOC, trans folx, and drag artists. Oklahoma accounts for 34 of those bills. Texas has 52.
Clay identified as a cisgender gay man, using he/him pronouns. He did enjoy challenging gender norms to express himself; according to his friends, “he loved wearing cute clothes and he often wore a simple lip gloss and eyelashes.” It is not up to us to speculate about his identity – we have to rely on his friends an his own statements. A cis gay man wearing some makeup and cute clothes is not the same thing as being a young trans person. It is not appropriate to speculate. A 19 year old member of our community died a terrible death from someone he knew who used a gun to silence him. But it does matter that Clay’s gender creativity be acknowledges and honored along with his sexual orientation. Looking through his social media, it is clear he truly enjoyed cute fashion just like many other teens and young adults. This is why policing gender expression to fit into a strict binary is so damaging and can be distorted to hurt kids. Did Clay wearing makeup, pearls, and floral prints present any genuine threat to anyone?
Clay would have turned 20 in May. He was very proud of being a Taurus.
His family has set up a crowdfund for final expenses. They need to transport his body from Lawton to the family home in Texas where he will buried next to Hailey.
Friends in Fort Worth are organizing a local vigil to honor Clay.
Rest in power, Clay. I am so sorry we didn’t create a better, safer world for you. I hope there is justice in your name and that you find peace.
May your memory be a revolution.
If you are an LGBTQ young person in need of support, reach out to a crisis counselor, available 24/7, through The Trevor Project by phone at 1-866-488.7386. Text and online chat options are available.
If your partner, family member, lover, or anyone with whom you have an intimate relationship is treating you poorly or violently, you can find help with an LGBTQ Domestic Violence hotline. Call 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) Text and online chat options are available.