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Murder of Lynchburg transgender woman marks 15th in community for 2017

MadelyneAshworth | July 6, 2017

A Lynchburg, VA resident, who has been identified as a transgender woman, died after suffering gunshot wounds in the early morning hours this past Sunday at 303 Rivermont Avenue.

The victim was identified by Lynchburg Police as Phineus Rufus Neville, 28, who used the name Ebony Morgan. She had not been able to legally changed her name before her death according to an article posted by The News & Advance.

Police responded to an emergency call for reports of a malicious wounding around 1:07 a.m. after which Neville was transported to Lynchburg General Hospital, according to an LDP press release. She was pronounced dead on arriving at the hospital.

When contacted for information, the Lynchburg Police Department directed RVA Magazine to the press releases on their Facebook page.

Sunday morning, LPD released another statement calling Lynchburg resident Kenneth Allen Kelley Jr, 22, a “Person of Interest” and asked for anyone who knows of his whereabouts to contact Crime Stoppers.

Although the LPD has publicly stated that there has been no evidence to confirm the shooting was a hate crime, the death has caused upset among the Lynchburg LGBTQ community.

The Lynchburg Diversity Center and Lynchburg Transgender Alliance, two local LGBTQ support groups, have both voiced concern after the shooting and posted a statement on Facebook.

“The Lynchburg Diversity Center and Lynchburg Transgender Alliance would like to express its sincere condolences to the victim’s family, friends, and community,” LDC said, according to their Facebook post. “LDC and LTA are deeply saddened to hear of another homicide of someone who is transgender. This is a sad day for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer community of Virginia. And a very sad day for us in Lynchburg.”

Ebony Morgan is the 15th transgender individual to be murdered in 2017, according to GLAAD, a non-governmental LGBT media monitoring organization.

This number is projected to rise and even exceed the number of transgender persons murdered in 2016, which according to GLAAD amounted in at least 23 deaths. This number rose from 2015, which reported 21 deaths.

The Lynchburg Diversity Center and Lynchburg Transgender Alliance is offering open office hours for anyone who feels they need support or comfort, which can be found on their Facebook page.

For those who have any information on the crime, you may contact Crime Stoppers at 1-888- 798-5900 or Det. A.O. Kittrell at 434-455-6170.