Transgender woman killed in arson remembered as ‘big-hearted lady’

A photo of 53-year-old Regina Denise Brown, a transgender woman

A transgender woman was found dead in her home in South Carolina after it was set on fire on October 10.

Regina Denise Brown, from Orangeburg, was 53 year old and worked as a licensed cosmetologist, a person claiming to be in a relationship with the woman told PinkNews.

“She always was smiling and happy. She always gave encouragement to the younger trans women always highlighting our best features and strong traits. Just an all around great lady with a big heart. She was a very amazing talented big hearted lady,” the person said in an email.

Brown, also known as Gina to her friends, was mourned also mourned by her loved ones on Facebook. “Lost for words, my buddy, my best friend, my beautiful sis, always called me star or boo… Real kind hearted & genuine friend of mines…. Star loves you, & will always remember the good times we had… May you RIP God’s angel…… Gina,” one post in her memory read.

Firefighters found transgender woman dead in her home

Brown’s death was first reported in local newspaper The Times and Democrat. According to the reports, a passerby called the firefighters after seeing a fire in Brown’s home.

The authorities noted the absence of vehicles from the driveway and assumed no one was inside the home. But as they began to extinguish the fire, they discovered Brown’s body in the rear part of the building.

Transgender woman, Regina Denise Brown.

Transgender woman, Regina Denise Brown worked as a licensed cosmetologist. (Facebook)

A man was arrested in connection with the fire. Kenneth Lamont Jenkins, a 37-year-old ex-convict, has previously served 18 years in prison for armed robbery and possession of a stolen vehicle and was released in the past three years.

According to police investigators, Jenkins “willfully and maliciously set fire to Ms. Regina Denise Brown’s home,” watching from the outside as the house burnt before fleeing the scene in Brown’s car.

Jenkins, who was initially charged with second-degree arson and grand larceny, was later charged with Brown’s murder at a court hearing on November 7.

Suspect Kenneth Lamont Jenkins apologised to the family of Regina Denise Brown

A warrant quoted in The Times and Democrat alleges that Jenkins admitted killing Brown “during a physical altercation.” The warrant also noted that Jenkins presented injuries consistent with someone who had been in a physical altercation.

In court, Jenkins apologised to Brown’s family, but accused the investigators of lying about his admission of guilt. “You know I didn’t tell you I murdered Regina. You know you lying about that,” he said, according to the exchange filmed by The Times and Democrat.

Brown’s untimely death would add to the current list of 25 known transgender murder victims in the US this year, as recorded by the Human Rights Campaign, the LGBT+ group that monitors violence against the transgender community.

The actual number may be higher, as there is no official data collection on crimes against trans people, and monitors frequently have to rely on LGBT+ community sources.