Chyna Carrillo, 24, a trans Latinx woman, was slain in Wilmington, Pennsylvania, on February 18. According to a report in the New Castle News, Carrillo was brutally beaten to death with a blunt object by Juan Carter Hernandez, 33, a military deserter recently released from prison where he was serving eight to 10 years for the murder of his wife in 2011. Carrillo’s killing is the 7th known transgender victim of violence in 2021, setting a pace to become the most deadly ever for the trans community.
“Already in 2021, we’ve lost too many trans lives,” Tory Cooper, director of community engagement for the transgender justice initiative at Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement. “If this alarming rate of fatal violence persists, we will either match or surpass last year’s total number of 44 deaths, which marked 2020 as the deadliest year on record for our community.”
Police officers were called to a house on New Castle Street just after 11:00 a.m. on February 18 where they found Hernandez beating Carrillo with a blunt object. An unnamed police officer shot and killed Hernandez when he refused orders to stop the assault. Hernandez died at the scene, while Carrillo was rushed to St. Elizabeth Health Center in nearby Youngstown, Ohio, where she later died.
Carrillo, who was also known as Chyna Cardena had recently moved to New Wilmington from Arkansas with the hope of starting a new life. She was employed as a certified nursing assistant at The Grove at New Wilmington, a skilled nursing facility. Her murder took place in a house next to the Grove.
Friends and family have been left devastated by the news. All remember her as a warm and outgoing woman who touched their lives and will be sorely missed.
“Whenever I was around Chyna and I knew I was working with her, it just felt like my world would light up,” Patrick Irish, a friend and former coworker, told Arkansas TV station KNWA. “Her move to Pennsylvania was supposed to be a new start for her. I was really excited to see that for her, and to see that someone decided it was her time, it’s been so painful.”
Carrillo is the 7th known transgender victim of violence in 2021, although that number is likely higher. Many trans folks are misgendered and deadnamed in the media and by family and authorities following their passing. Her death sets the pace to make 2021 the most deadly year ever for the trans community, surpassing last year’s previous record high of 44 victims. In January the governor of Puerto Rico declared a state of emergency to combat violence against the transgender community.
“The rate of violence against the transgender community so far this year is devastating,” Cooper noted. “Chyna was very young and did not deserve to have her life cut short.”
Sadly, Carrillo would have celebrated her 25th birthday next month.