Nine members of the family, including the mother and sister, of a 26-year-old gay man who was found stabbed to death in his Hyattsville, Md., apartment on May 30 traveled from Pennsylvania to D.C. on Nov. 9 to celebrate what would have been Matthew Mickens-Murrey’s 27th birthday.
Mickens-Murrey’s family members joined more than a dozen of his friends and supporters in the upstairs lounge of Nellie’s Sports Bar at a gathering organized by Impulse D.C., an entertainment and advocacy group that provides HIV and education related services for black gay men.
With at least three local TV news camera crews looking on, the family members and friends, led by Impulse D.C. President Devin Barrington-Ward, called on Prince George’s County police to step up the investigation into the unsolved murder. Petitions were circulated calling on police and local political leaders to “put more effort into ensuring Justice for Matt.”
Barrington-Ward said in a statement that the event was aimed at celebrating the life of the well-liked guy they knew as Matt, raising awareness, and “re-engaging the public in the cold case murder” of Mickens-Murrey.
“Matt, who publicly identified as a Black gay man, frequented Nellie’s Sports Bar, an LGBTQ establishment, and one of the last places he was seen alive,” the statement says.
It says Impulse D.C. and Mickens-Murrey’s friends and family members were also calling on D.C. police to more aggressively investigate the unsolved murders of two other black gay men in D.C.
A 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., according to police. A little over a year later, D.C. police found Stephon Marquis Perkins, 21, lying unconscious on a street in Southeast D.C. suffering from a gunshot wound to the head on June 25, 2015. Police said he was taken to a nearby hospital where he was pronounced dead.
Neither Prince George’s County police nor D.C. police responded to a request by the Washington Blade last week for an update on the status of the investigations into the three murders.
Melody Murrey, Mickens-Murrey’s mother, told the Blade at the gathering at Nellie’s last week that a P.G. County police investigator said her son was stabbed multiple times. She said the investigator also said there were no signs of a forced entry into the apartment, leading police to believe Mickens-Murrey knew his attacker and invited him into the apartment.
“They said they found DNA but they were still waiting for it to be tested by the FBI,” Melody Murrey said. “We just don’t know why it’s taking so long.”
Melody Murrey and her daughter Naja Murrey said Mickens-Murrey was out to his family and was loved “for who he was.”
“What message does it send to the community when they constantly see other black LGBTQ people being murdered over a short span of time and those victims, their families, friends, and community never receive justice?” said Barrington-Ward. “This is about accountability as well as public safety for black LGBTQ people,” he said. “Black Lives Matter and that includes Black LGBTQ people too.”