Friends say Mia Henderson had only recently moved back to Baltimore when she became the victim of a homicide this week in Northwest Baltimore.
Henderson was found in a Hanlon-Longwood neighborhood alley early Wednesday, killed by "severe trauma," police said. Henderson's brother, Reggie Bullock, is a shooting guard for the Los Angeles Clippers, and her death became national and international news Thursday in part because of that connection.
Police say the killing of Henderson, 26, a transgender woman, bears similarities to the killing of another transgender woman named Kandy Hall, 40, about a month ago in Northeast Baltimore. Both were found dead during the early morning, and detectives are trying to determine whether the crimes are connected.
Henderson, who friends said spent years in Baltimore, moved back to the city about a month ago from North Carolina, where her family had roots, said James Burrell Jr. of Women Accepting Responsibility, which advocates for transgender women. Burrell said he'd met Henderson on a few occasions and has been in contact with her friends since her death.
"Just a sweet girl," he said of Henderson, who was previously known as Kevin Long. "Kind of kept to herself. A little funny. A little comical. A nice girl."
Bullock declined to comment through his agent but on Twitter on Thursday he thanked well-wishers for their texts and phone calls. As the Associated Press, ESPN, The Washington Post, Huffington Post and the Daily Mail began covering Henderson's death, many people took to social media outlets to raise awareness for LGBT crime victims.
On Thursday, former Ravens linebacker and outspoken LGBT advocate Brendon Ayanbadejo also commented on Henderson's killing, writing on Twitter, "This is why we fight. Its so much bigger than 'gays in sports,' it really has nothing to do with that."
Bullock, who is headed into his second season with the Clippers after being drafted last year, pledged his support for the LGBT community.
In one exchange, someone under the handle @Miss_Star87 wrote, "R.I.P Mia Henderson (Kevin Long) another transgender woman killed. We as the LGBT community must stand up for our sister Mia. #JUSTICE."
Bullock responded, "thanks a lot ... y'all community have my biggest support."
Another user, @glampickman, responded, "sorry for your loss be brave and use your star power to help the gay and transgender people #nohate #gayrights #love."
Bullock responded, "no doubt I'm pushing and supporting that community for life just because any person should be able to live there own life."
Police took the rare step of holding a news conference Wednesday to ask the public for help in solving Henderson's slaying, which has concerned leaders of local LGBT advocacy groups who believe that transgender women are too often targeted by violence.
Police said they investigate every homicide case with the same thoroughness. But some cases, such as Henderson's, benefit from publicity while others do not, they said.
"The high-profile nature of it goes toward solving it," Baltimore police spokesman Lt. Eric Kowalczyk said. "We need to make sure that the community understands that as a police department, we're going to do everything in our power to support them, listen to their concerns, meet with them, and at the same time ask for their assistance."
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