Dec 6, 2021 - News

Tampa seeks justice for Jenny DeLeon

A headshot of Tampa murder vistim Jenny DeLeon.
Jenny DeLeon. Photo: Tampa Police Department/Facebook

A month after her killing, the Tampa Bay LBGTQ+ community is seeking closure for Jenny DeLeon.

What's happening: The 25-year-old was found murdered on Nov. 2 in Sulphur Springs, according to Tampa Police.

Why it matters: DeLeon was killed during the most violent year ever for transgender people in the U.S., according to the Human Rights Campaign.

  • She was the fourth transgender woman murdered in Florida this year.
  • At least 49 transgender and gender non-conforming people have been killed this year in the U.S., breaking last year's record of 44.

Who she was: DeLeon became a member of PFLAG Tampa as a 16-year-old student at Leto High School. She sought help from the organization when she began transition, Times reporter Anastasia Dawson writes.

  • She launched a youth program at Metro Inclusive Health with mentor Lucas Wehle.
  • DeLeon was kicked out of her family home after coming out, PFLAG members and Metro employees recall. Soon after a couple took her in, she left and stopped regularly showing up to meetings.
  • People close to DeLeon told the Times she was experiencing homelessness and didn't want to be taken in.

What they're saying: "All she wanted to do was have fun, be happy and say silly stuff to make you laugh, make you smile or, even better, make you uncomfortable," Wehle told the Times.

  • "She survived for a long time on her own. She went out and found her freedom. But it's just really devastating that this is the reality of the world we live in, even in the town I grew up in, where we've created so many resources and so much change.
  • "This is still the ending for so many people that I knew and loved.”

How to help: Tampa Police ask anyone with information about DeLeon’s death to call Crime Stoppers of Tampa Bay at 1-800-873-8477, case #21-463329.

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