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Arrest Made In Ebony Morgan Murder Case

Kenneth Allen Kelley Jr. was charged with second-degree murder and use of a firearm in commission of a felony.

Marilyn Drew Necci | October 9, 2017

Lynchburg Police arrested a Lynchburg man yesterday in connection with the murder of Ebony Morgan, which took place July 2* in Lynchburg. Kenneth Allen Kelley Jr had originally been proclaimed a person of interest by the Lynchburg Police Department the day after Morgan’s murder. Later, the department formally charged Kelley with second-degree murder. However, his whereabouts did not come to light until this weekend. Kelley was arrested around 11:30 AM yesterday and is currently being held without bond at Blue Ridge Regional Jail.

Morgan, a transgender woman of color, was shot multiple times in the wee hours of the morning on Sunday, July 2. She was taken to Lynchburg General Hospital and succumbed to her wounds later that day, becoming the 15th transgender person to be murdered in 2017 according to GLAAD.

Throughout investigation into her case, the Lynchburg Police Department has continued to refer to Morgan by her deadname, using incorrect pronouns and the term “male” for her. This has continued to be true as of yesterday, when the department referred to her using only her deadname and incorrect male pronouns in a Facebook post announcing Kelley’s arrest.

There’s been no word thus far as to whether Kelley will be charged under hate crime laws. Virginia’s hate crime laws do extend to crimes involving bias against gender identity (certainly not something that can be taken for granted in a state that does not protect employees from discrimination on that basis); however, the Lynchburg Police have not mentioned such a charge thus far.

Since Morgan was murdered in July, six more transgender people have been murdered in the United States, putting the current count at 21 according to Human Rights Campaign. All but two were people of color.

*–Please note that this archival GayRVA article predates the current editor and does not reflect current policy regarding discussion of transgender people.