By Michelle Richardson, Special to the AFRO

On June 7, 2009, at 11:00 a.m., Dana Richardson, 44 or as her family called her “Nupe,” was found dead in his Reservoir Hill apartment in the 900 block of Brooks Lane. Richardson, who was born male, but lived as a transgender woman had been stabbed to death. Ten years later, her violent death has disproportionately impacted transgender people of color.

In 2018, according to the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), 26 transgender people suffered violent deaths in the U.S., a majority of them were Black trans women.

As of May 2019, seven trans people have been killed violently in the United States; all of the victims have been Black trans women. The HRC also reported in 2018, four out of five anti-trans homicides were trans women of color.

Dana Richardson, a 44-year-old transgender woman was killed in her Reservoir Hill apartment in 2009. Her family still seeks justice for her killer. (Courtesy Photo)

However, the Baltimore Police Department (BPD) do not believe Richardson’s death in 2009 was a hate crime.

“ was found beside the bed in the praying position,” said Richardon’s younger sister, Dion Richardson. The family said the BPD’s investigation into their loved one’s death was moving along initially, but at some point the process seemed to stop and Richardson’s death became a cold case. 

But, the family’s mourning never stopped.

“ didn’t finish, but pursued a nursing career. did gerontology; took care of the elderly. was a nurse’s assistant,” said Dion Richardon, who added her siblilng’s lifestyle did not deter the family’s love for her.

“Dana was pretty much a happy person. Outgoing, had a good spirit, jovial,” Richardson said. “ was always well accepted by everybody in the family and well loved. was happy being who was and we loved all the more for it,” she added.

“My mother and father had a big heart and they had good spirits and that was their child. My parents accepted (her) from day one as was and treated like the individual that was. We all did. We love (her), unconditionally.”

Richardson loved to dance and was well known in Baltimore’s LGBTQ club scene, according to her family.

“She was very popular at the gay clubs. Dana was a singer. She had a great voice and a couple of times she performed at the Artscape as her idols Diana Ross and Billie Holiday. That was her passion,” said Dion Richardson.

Richardson, who was HIV positive and a long time heroin addict allegedly planned to enroll in a drug treatment program the Monday after she was killed.

“I may have been the last family member to see her alive before she passed away. I saw her that Friday and went to her house and she was really sick. In the final stages of her illness. She was so small,” explained Dion Richardson. 

“She was so defenseless because of her illness, so it was senseless to take her life for whatever reason. To me it was like killing an elderly person. You could have taken the money and walked away.”

According to the BPD, there was no forced entry into Richardson’s apartment and she had defensive wounds on her body, indicating to detectives that she put up a fight.

Neighbors told police, in the days leading up to Richardson’s death, they saw her with some men they had never seen before at her apartment. 

Dion thinks Dana knew her killer. 

“I think Dana may have invited in someone she knew very well to go out and buy drugs for her, because she couldn’t go out to get them herself…her check came that week. I think the person knew Dana had money and tried to take her money,” Dion Richardson said.

Early in the investigation, police identified a person of interest in the homicide. Allegedly, there was not enough evidence to hold that person, and he later moved to Florida. Detectives told the family that if the man was arrested again for another crime, they could bring him in for questioning. So far, detectives say, nothing has popped up in the system indicating an arrest record for him. Consequently, the Richardson’s case remains on ice.

“If Dana was alive today, she would probably be an advocate for the LGBTQ community because she was always telling people it’s okay to come out and it’s okay to be you,” said Dion. 

“No matter how much time has passed, if you know something. Call us. No tip is ever too small or too old,” said BPD Spokesperson Nikki Monroe. 

Anyone with any information in the murder of Dana Richardson should contact Baltimore Homicide Detectives.