Transgender Travesty in Fontana
By Alex Distefano
Fontana Police say that a suspect in the murder of a transgender woman, who was brutally beaten in her apartment late last month, is on the run, and the police department is in need of the public’s help in tracking him down. According to Fontana Police spokesman Doug ImHof, the victim in this case was a transgender individual, known as Domonique Newburn.
Police arrived at the victim’s apartment on Bennet Ave. on the afternoon of Tuesday, Aug. 20, after 911 calls were received, reporting of a domestic disturbance. Police entered the apartment, where the door was visibly open and there seemed to be evidence of violence of some kind, including blood. The victim’s body was found, and ImHof said that witnesses saw a shirtless African American male, possibly in his early-to-mid 20s, fleeing the scene just before authorities showed up.
ImHof told the Weekly that the victim was fatally beaten, and it seemed that there was a struggle; signs pointed to the victim trying to escape her attacker through a window. He also said that her 2004 Mercedes was stolen by the suspect, but was eventually found by San Bernardino law enforcement officers abandoned at Perris Hill Park.
ImHof would not go in to any more specifics of this senseless crime, but did mention that from evidence collected, they believe the suspect to be 18-year-old San Bernardino resident Dantjier Powell.
ImHof did not go into details but did say that investigators discovered evidence that led them to link Powell to the crime.
ImHof said that subsequent investigations led authorities to issue search warrants, which were served at more than one location in San Bernardino, with the help of the Inland Valley Special Weapons and Tactics unit. This is what led police to identify Powell as the suspect in the murder.
“The victim in this case knew the suspect,” ImHof said. “But at this time, it remains unknown what type of relationship they had.
ImHof said that Powell might have tried to flee to another state on a bus, but information confirming that was not available. “It was reported that he fled initially, but he has possibly returned to the area,” he said.
Despite the fact that the victim was a transgender individual, ImHof told the Weekly that at this time, police are not investigating it as a hate crime. “The victim and suspect apparently knew each other for quite some time,” he said. “This is an ongoing investigation, and a motive for the homicide is not yet known.”
This story was reported on by both local major media outlets, and even got national exposure on sites like TMZ, The Huffington Post and more, not only because the victim was a member of the LBGT community, but also a star of a popular a web-based reality show from 2010-11 called “Hollywood Houseboys,” which chronicled the lives of four gay friends striving to make it show business.
Friends of the transgender victim and members of the LBGT community in the IE gathered the day after the crime, to hold a candle light vigil in Fontana for Newburn.
Members of the victim’s family were too distraught to make a statement, but the executive producer of the Hollywood Houseboys show, Ryan Hope, released a statement to the press at the vigil. “We are all deeply shocked and saddened by the tragic loss of our sister, Domonique Newburn. Domonique was an amazing person whose spirit transcended gender. When we set out to document our lives for reality-television, we never once wished to make headlines like this. Our thoughts, prayers, and condolences are with her family.”
Also making public statement was the distraught father of the suspect in this case, who begged his son to turn himself into police custody. “I wouldn’t be saying this if I didn’t love you,” Loueadry Powell told KTLA Channel 5 in a news interview. “I’m coming out from my heart and my soul. Everybody’s here — your brothers, your sisters. We all agree, you should come on, turn yourself in. Come home. Just turn yourself in and we’ll take care of it.”
ImHof said that Powell is described as an African American male, who is roughly 5 feet, 8 inches with short hair and an average build. He strongly urged anyone who with information on the suspect’s whereabouts to call the Fontana Police Department at (909) 350-7740, or the hotline, (909) 356-TIPS.