Much-loved trans woman Thomas Hardin among victims of brutal killing spree

Thomas Hardin stands outside in a printed dress

Thomas Hardin, a 35-year-old trans woman, was murdered this month in a brutal killing spree across two US states.

Hardin, described by those who knew her as an affable wisecracker, was killed at her home in York, South Carolina on 2 May. Local officials have not confirmed a cause of death, but witnesses say she was shot.

It’s believed that she was killed by a man she had been romantically involved with, and who is also accused of shooting two other people that same day.

The suspect, Tyler Terry, has been linked to killings across both South Carolina and in St Louis, Missouri.  The pair, friends and neighbours claimed, and “had a falling out” after Hardin asked Perry to move out.

A woman named Adrienne Simpson has also been charged in the murder of one of the victims – her own husband, Eugene Simpson.

An arrest warrant alleged she and Terry shot Eugene that night and dumped his body on Stroad Road, with the pair compared to Bonnie and Clyde by investigators, WSNC said.

Terry and Simpson then became the top suspects in the killing of Barbara Goodkin in St Louis County on 15 May.

Police tracked the pair down at a Bojangles restaurant parking lot in Richburg, South Carolina, on 17 May only for a high-speed chase to ensue.

Shots were fired by Terry at Chest County deputies during the chase, denting multiple police vehicles.

Simpson was arrested that night after crashing the car along Highway Nine, having since been charged with accessory, but Terry fled from the scene.

But following a sprawling, days-long search effort which saw the FBI assist, the Chester County Sheriff’s Office confirmed Monday (24 May) that “Terry is in custody”.

“No shots were fired by any party,” it wrote. “Everyone (including Terry) is safe.”


What happened to Thomas Hardin?

At around 8:40pm, York Police officers arrived at Hardin’s home along Lowry Road for a wellbeing check after concerned friends had not heard from her for nearly a day.

Hardin’s vehicle was parked outside the home and the door was ajar, police said.

“It wasn’t normal,” Hardin’s friend, Chimere Hicks, told WIS 10 News. “We knew something was wrong then and we [she and Hardin’s cousin] both started crying.

“I think the police made a comment like, ‘oh my gosh’, when he went in. And we knew then.”

“He had put Tyler out of his house months ago,” Hicks added.

“He was giving him a place to stay because he didn’t have anywhere to live. And it just wasn’t working out and so he put him out.

“He [Terry] would always send him [Hardin] threatening messages, calling him names, just doing a lot of things to him.

“I just kept telling Thomas it’s not safe. You know you come home at night. But he always said no I’m not scared of him.”

Loved ones and law enforcement said that Hardin used both she/her and he/him pronouns. “He would say he or she,” Hicks said.

“Thomas didn’t care. When I’m talking to him, sometimes I’m saying he, sometimes I’m saying she. He did not care.”

Hardin’s tragic and turbulent death brings with it for many activists a disturbing sense of familiarity.

Following an already record-breaking 2020, this year has seen an alarming surge in transphobic violence and killings that put 2021 on pace to become the most deadly year yet for trans folk, activists warn.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, which closely tracks the wave of brutality, this year has seen “at least” 26 trans, non-binary and gender non-conforming people killed – not counting Hardin.

The spate of violence, it says, is no doubt even higher considering that misgendering and deadnaming remains rife in police and press reports.

In five months the community has mourned: Tyianna Alexandra, Samuel Edmund Damián Valentín, Bianca Bankz, Dominique JacksonFifty BandzAlexus BraxtonChyna Carrillo, Jeffrey ‘JJ’ Bright, Jasmine Cannady, Jenna Franks, Diamond ‘Kyree’ SandersRayanna PardoDominique Lucious, Jaida Peterson, Remy FennellTiara Banks, Natalia Smüt, Iris SantosTiffany Thomas, Jahaira DeAlto BalenciagaKeri Washington, Sophie Vásquez, Danny Henson,  Whispering Bear Spirit, Serenity Hollis and Oliver Taylor.