St. Pete community mourns the loss of murdered transgender woman, suspect still at large

Community activists, friends and family members of 25-year-old Jenny de Leon gathered at Vinoy Park Saturday night for a vigil honoring her life.

De Leon’s body was found the Nov. 2 outside of a home on 9th Street North in the Sulphur Springs area of Tampa. Since then, detectives have had a hard time getting leads into what happened to de Leon and who is responsible.

"It’s always important to make sure that these stories reach the public, that these names get remembered," said Tamara Leigh, vigil organizer. "2021 has actually been the deadliest year for transphobic violence, killing trans folks around the country. Jenny actually makes number 46."

Activists say these kinds of vigils help spread community awareness.

"The message we want to get out, is that this is a national epidemic and we can’t ignore the fact that this violence is happening," explained Molly Robison, the board secretary for St. Pete Pride. "I am the parent of a transgender child and as the parent of a transgender child, any time I see this kind of violence in the trans community it breaks my heart and it scares me, and it makes me angry."

De Leon’s family says they also hope this vigil helps keep her case alive.

"I don’t want it to be forgotten and no matter how long it takes I still want justice for her," shared Iris de Leon, Jenny’s sister. "Jenny was always very happy, she was always doing crazy things, always filling up people’s lives and very energetic, she was just crazy and full of life."

She’s holding on to her favorite memories and has a very important message for the community.

"Be proud of who you are, even if you have some relatives that don’t support you, just be proud of who you are, do what makes you happy, because it doesn’t matter if they don’t understand you, you just have to know that you’re a human," Iris said.

Anyone with information about de Leon's death is asked to call the Tampa Police Department or CrimeStoppers at 1-800-873-8477.

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