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2 Arrested In Recent Homicides Of 2 Transgender Women

CMPD Lt. Bryan Crum speaks at a news conference Friday announcing the arrests of two people in connection with the two recent homicides.
Sarah Delia
CMPD Lt. Bryan Crum speaks at a news conference Friday announcing the arrests of two people in connection with two recent homicides.

Charlotte-Mecklenburg police arrested two Union County men Friday in the recent shooting deaths of two transgender women in the Charlotte area in the span of 11 days. Police said they are considering hate crime charges.

On April 4, 29-year-old Jaida Peterson, was found dead in a Quality Inn hotel on Queen City Drive in west Charlotte. On April 15, a second victim, Remy Fennell, was found dead in a Sleep Inn hotel in the University City area.

Both Peterson and Fennell were transgender women, both engaged in sex work, both died from gunshot wounds, and both were Black according to police records.

Dontarius Long, 21, and Joel Brewer, 33, were charged with two counts of murder in the cases, CMPD said.

According to Lt. Bryan Crum, who spoke at a news conference Friday, police believe the suspects knew each other. In both cases, police said, Long and Brewer arrived at the hotels together and left together.

Crum said there are no other suspects. Police are still searching for a motive but say sexual solicitation was involved.

“Both women were certainly involved in sex work; we believe that there was some sexual activity,” Crum said. “And we think that that’s how they connected. Specifically, how that is, that’s something we’re looking into — as to how they made that connection.”

Crum added he’s spoken to members of the FBI regarding hate crime charges. If the victims were targeted based on their gender identity the charges will have to federal ones. North Carolina's hate crime statute does not include protections for gender identity.

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Sarah Delia is a Senior Producer for Charlotte Talks with Mike Collins. Sarah joined the WFAE news team in 2014. An Edward R. Murrow Award-winning journalist, Sarah has lived and told stories from Maine, New York, Indiana, Alabama, Virginia and North Carolina. Sarah received her B.A. in English and Art history from James Madison University, where she began her broadcast career at college radio station WXJM. Sarah has interned and worked at NPR in Washington DC, interned and freelanced for WNYC, and attended the Salt Institute for Radio Documentary Studies.