November 18, 2020 at 10:28 pm EST | by Yariel Valdés González
Transgender woman murdered in Miami
Yunieski “Yuni” Carey Herrera, 39, was born in Cuba. (Photo courtesy of social media)

A transgender woman who was a well-known activist and performer in Miami was murdered on Tuesday.

A spokesperson for the Miami Police Department told the Washington Blade that 28-year-old Ygor Arrudasouza had placed a 911 call at around 4:25 a.m. on Tuesday, stating that he had stabbed his girlfriend, 39-year-old Yunieski Carey Herrera also known Yuni Carey, in their downtown Miami high-rise apartment near the Adrienne Arsht Center for the Performing Arts in downtown Miami.

Responding officers found Carey covered in blood suffering from stab wounds and unresponsive. The police report noted that Arrudasouza had uttered a spontaneous confession admitting to the crime and that methamphetamine had influenced the events. She was pronounced dead at the scene. According to Miami police the two had been involved in an argument that became physical.

Arrudasouza on Wednesday during his first court appearance confessed he was under the influence of methamphetamines when he used a fork and a knife to stab Carey in a fit of rage.

Arrudasouza, a local dancer of Brazilian origin, has been charged with second-degree murder. Arrudasouza in an emotional confession claimed he “deserves the punishment that comes to him.”

Arrudasouza, according to the arrest report, told a detective that Carey said during an argument that “she had a better man.” This confession triggered Arrudasouza, who has a recent history of violence, to attack Carey.

Court records indicate Arrudasouza in January was charged with three counts of battery.

That case remains open and is scheduled to go to trial on March 8. Arrudasouza was out on bail when he allegedly killed Carey. He is currently being held without bail at a Miami jail.

Arianna Lint, executive director of Arianna’s Center, a South Florida-based group that works with members of the trans community, told the Blade on Wednesday that she knew Carey and Arrudasouza well. Lint said she is still in shock over Carey’s murder.

“They came to the center for exams and for emotional support,” said Lint. “I received calls from her (Carey) on several occasions seeking advice when she had a fight with her husband. They, as a couple, were facing problems.”

Carey performed at Azúcar, a gay nightclub near Miami’s Little Havana neighborhood. Alexis Fernández, a drag queen known as Marytrini who is the establishment’s artistic producer, told the Blade that Arrudasouza was kicked out three times because of violence.

“Her boyfriend was aggressive, violent,” said Fernández. “He got hysterical out of jealously and he was always hitting people. I advised her to leave him on several occasions, but she was afraid. I even think she wanted to rehabilitate him for his violence.”

Carey born, raised in Cuba

Carey was born in Santa Clara, the capital of Cuba’s Villa Clara province that is in the center of the country, and spent her childhood there. She lived with her grandmother in Miami, while the rest of her family remains in Cuba.

Carey previously won the Miss Trans Cuba beauty pageant. She was later crowned Miss Trans Global 2019 in Barcelona. Carey was preparing to return to the stage for the first time in eight months because of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Next Sunday would have been her great return to Azúcar,” said Fernández. “I was ready for the show.”

Fernández, as an artist, defined Carey as a person who knew how to seduce her audience. Fernández added the community loved her.

“She was the typical jovial and cheerful Cuban,” added Lint. “She loved parties. She was very Cuban, very beautiful.”

Bamby Salcedo, president of the Los Angeles-based TransLatin@ Coalition, told the Blade she had known Carey since she was a teenager. Salcedo described Carey as a highly motivated person and a role model for young trans women who took care of her grandmother.

“This is a crazy world, so sad,” said Salcedo. “She [Carey] was admired by so many in the trans communities, her work in pageantry, her work as a service provider, she was the most resilient person. She was a good person.”

Carey was killed days before the annual Transgender Day of Remembrance, which pays tribute to trans people who were murdered. Carey is the 37th trans person reported killed in the U.S. in 2020.

Azúcar on Friday and Sunday plan to honor Carey’s life with a tribute. Marytrini, Valeria Coutier and Mónica Simpson are among those who are expected to perform.

Brody Levesque contributed to this story.

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