(MILWAUKEE, Wisc.) — A man has been charged in the death of Cashay Henderson, a Black transgender woman who was found shot dead in her Milwaukee, Wisconsin apartment on Feb. 26.
According to a criminal complaint, the Milwaukee Fire Department was responding to a fire in her apartment she was found unconscious and not breathing, with a gunshot wound. Henderson, 31, was discovered “after the fire was extinguished and the apartment was vented.”
An autopsy found that the cause of death was “was multiple gunshot wounds” to her head and neck, and the manner of death was ruled a homicide. Officials say the cause of the fire was arson.
Cordell M. Howze was charged on Sunday with “first degree reckless homicide, habitual criminality repeater, use of a dangerous weapon” as well as “possession of a firearm by a felon.”
If convicted of these charges, he could face up to 85 years in prison and could be fined up to $25,000, officials say.
“His arrest represents one step forward in delivering justice to Cashay and reassuring the community, especially the LGBTQIA+ community, that MPD is committed to serving all persons inclusively,” the Milwaukee Police Department said in a statement. “The Milwaukee Police Department sends our condolences to Cashay’s family and loved ones, the LGBTQIA+ community, and all members of the public that were impacted by this tragic incident.”
Henderson’s family want her to be remembered as “a jokester,” “independent,” “unapologetic,” and someone who “walks to the beat of her own drum.”
Henderson, originally from Chicago, was a well-known figure in the Milwaukee LGBTQ+ community and was known for her advocacy.
“I’m proud of her. I’m proud that she made an impact on our community,” Levette Whitlock, Henderson’s cousin, told ABC News in an interview. “I’m proud people are standing up for her. I love that her community is coming and helping us.”
She is the fourth transgender person in the past year to be killed in the Milwaukee.
Copyright © 2023, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.