June 21, 2017 at 2:25 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Unsolved murders of 3 gay black men raise concern
Matthew Murrey, gay news, Washington Blade, unsolved murders

Matthew Mickens-Murrey, 26, was found stabbed to death in his Hyattsville apartment on May 30. (Photo courtesy Facebook)

The head of an entertainment oriented organization that provides HIV advocacy and education services for black gay men has called on D.C. and Prince George’s County police to step up their investigations into the unsolved murders of three black gay men in the D.C. area since 2014.

Devin Barrington-Ward, president of Impulse Group D.C., said he and activists involved with his organization are troubled that no other community-based organization has demanded answers from police about the status of the investigations into the three cases.

He said Impulse Group D.C. spoke out about the most recent case after learning that the victim, Matthew Mickens-Murrey, 26, who was found stabbed to death in his Hyattsville, Md., apartment on May 30, regularly attended Impulse Group events.

Barrington-Ward said a short time later his group learned that an aspiring black gay model and rapper named Demencio Lewis, 23, was shot to death in a hail of gunfire on March 13, 2014, on a street in Southeast D.C.

A little over a year later, D.C. police found Stephon Marquis Perkins, 21, lying unconscious on a street in Southeast Washington suffering from a gunshot wound to the head on June 25, 2015. Police said he was taken to a hospital where he was pronounced dead a short time later.

In all three cases police said they have yet to identify a suspect or determine a motive for the killings. In press releases announcing the murders at the time they occurred, D.C. and P.G. County police did not mention that the victims were gay.

A D.C. police spokesperson said police don’t believe the two D.C. cases are related.

Before learning of the Perkins case in D.C. from the Blade, which reported on that case when it happened, Impulse Group D.C. released a statement last week saying activists involved with the group sent letters to the D.C. and P.G. County police chiefs “demanding action” on the Mickens-Murrey and Lewis cases.

“While I do not believe the murders of Matt and Demencio are related, it is a tragedy that two Black gay men can be killed in our area and outside of their family and friends, no entity is demanding accountability and justice from the departments responsible for investigating these crimes,” Barrington-Ward said in the statement.

“Far too often when Black gay men and Black transwomen are killed their murderers are never found,” he said. “This sends a disturbing message that their lives have little to no value to their communities because if they did their murderers would be found,” he continued. “Today, Impulse Group D.C. is seeking to shift that narrative and push the authorities to do more and secure justice in these cases.”

D.C. police have released few details about the Perkins case other than he was found suffering from a fatal gunshot wound to the head near the intersection of 16th and Galen Streets, S.E. about 3:44 a.m. on Thursday, June 25, 2015.

An employee of the D.C. LGBT community services center Casa Ruby, who identified herself only as Molly H., told the Blade she and Perkins were close friends and that Perkins identified as gay.

In the Lewis case, Fox 5 News reported that Lewis’s mother told the TV news station that she and her son were dining together when Lewis received a call on his cell phone from someone named Chris, who was waiting downstairs. He told his mother he needed to talk to Chris and he would be right back, Fox 5 News reported.

Within minutes D.C. police said officers responded to the 2600 block of Sales Pl., S.E., and found Lewis lying unconscious on the street. His mother told Fox 5 he had been shot 27 times.

She also told the TV news station that her son’s status as an openly gay man may have had something to do with his death.

“Just because he was a gay man, he still was Demencio,” she said in an on-air interview. “He still was my son, my baby and he wouldn’t hurt anyone.”

Friends of Mickens-Murrey said he had attended events associated with D.C. Black Pride over the Memorial Day weekend. One of his friends, Terrence Ford, said Mickens-Murrey was last seen at the D.C. gay bar Nellie’s on Sunday night, May 28.

P.G. County police are calling on anyone who may have seen Mickens-Murrey in the days prior to his death or who may know something about the case to call them at 301-772-4925. D.C. police have said anyone who knows anything about the Lewis or Perkins cases should call the police tip line at 202-727-9099.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

  • They didn’t really need to mention sexual orientations. I’m sure, It’s just the common black, on black murder.

  • The motivation for these killings are only a part of this situation. That the deaths of black gay men go unresolved is a significant aspect. That the rate of resolution by authorities is lower for black gay men [or any other demographic for that matter] should be questioned by the public, and answered by authorities. Is it legitimately Harder to investigate and/or to resolve the murders of certain demographics as opposed of others? I doubt this.

    • I don’t know. After reading about the history of law enforcement and queer POC, it seems understandable that some people close to the victims might not feel safe talking to the police. That could certainly have a negative effect on an investigation, if a good faith effort is being made to conduct one.

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