Transgender teen killed after first date was stabbed and cut 37 times, report says

18-year-old Jacob Williamson dressed in his work uniform.

Shocking new details have emerged in the investigation into the death of a 18-year-old trans teen from South Carolina last year, who was stabbed by assailants.

Jacob Williamson, 18, was last seen on 30 June 2023 after leaving to go for a date at the Carowinds amusement park with a man he met online. His body was found by police, near a road eight miles from Pageland, South Carolina, four days later.

Joshua Newton, 25, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder and obstruction of justice, while his girlfriend, 22-year-old Victoria Smith faces charges of obstruction of justice and accessory-after-the-fact.

Joshua Newton and Victoria Smith
Joshua Newton, 25, and Victoria Smith, 22, have been charged in connection with the killing of trans teen Jacob Williamson. (Union County Sheriff’s Office)

Williamson had been living with his childhood friend, Promise Edwards, at the time of his death, after some members of his family rejected him for being trans.

New details have now emerged about Williamson’s cause of death and are disturbing, but Edwards told local news site WSOC-TV 9 that she felt it was important the community knows the nature of this case.

“I can never get over seeing that,” Promise Edwards told Channel 9′s Hannah Goetz. “For anybody to have to die that way, especially for a teenager who was only able to be himself for 28 days, makes it even harder,” she added. “Because I know what I did to try to protect him.”

You may like to watch

A pathologist’s report released by North Carolina’s Office of the Chief Medical Examiner has revealed that Williamson’s cause of death was “multiple sharp force injuries”. Throughout the report, investigators shared details of more than 30 stab wounds, cuts and mutilations.

Edwards told Channel 9 that Williamson would have turned 19 next week, adding that it would have been his first birthday as his true self since coming out as transgender.

“For anybody to have to die that way, especially for a teenager who was only able to be himself for 28 days, makes it even harder,” she said. “Because I know what I did to try to protect him.” In a tribute on social media after his death, Edwards wrote: “This world was so cruel to Jacob his entire life. I find peace knowing that in the last month-and-a-half, he found peace.”

In addition to the stabbing injuries, some body parts had been intentionally removed, the report said.

The examiner’s findings also indicated Williamson was killed at a home in Monroe, North Carolina, before his body was placed in trash bags and taken across state lines. Investigators found that Williamson’s phone last “pinged” at an address in Monroe: the address where Newton lived with his girlfriend, Victoria Smith.

The number of wounds and the mutilation of Williamson’s body was “certainly not typical,” Dr. Kenny Kinsey, a forensic and crime scene reconstruction expert and former chief deputy of the Orangeburg County Sheriff’s Office, told The State Media Co. Kinsey, added, “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like this or worked anything like this in South Carolina,” referring to the unparalleled brutality of the act.

An unnamed witness led investigators to the gravesite in Pageland, South Carolina, approximately eight miles from Newton and Smith’s home. Williamson’s remains were found buried under old car tires and pine straw, according to the report. He had been placed in black plastic trash bags bound together with duct tape.

Videos surfaced of Newton and Smith engaging in a live stream on the social media platform LiveMe, just hours after the fatal stabbing. Newton casually remarked during the stream, “It was fun.”

The case echoes that of UK teenager Brianna Ghey. Ghey, a 16-year-old transgender girl, who was stabbed 28 times in her back, head and neck in a violent, daytime assault in Culceth Linear Park in Warrington, Cheshire.

In February 2024, two teenagers were found guilty and sentenced for murdering the trans schoolgirl. Scarlett Jenkinson and Eddie Ratcliffe, both 16, were named by Mrs Justice Yip after the anonymity order that prevented the media from revealing their identities was lifted given the serious nature of their crimes.

People attend a candlelit vigil in memory of 16-year-old Brianna Ghey on February 14, 2023 in Liverpool, England. (Photo by Christopher Furlong/Getty Images)

Justice Yip sentenced Jenkinson to life with a minimum of 22 years and Ratcliffe to life with a minimum of 20 years, noting that they both took part in a “brutal, planned murder” that was “sadistic in nature” and motivated by “hostility towards Brianna because of her transgender identity.”

The Union County, N.C., Sheriff’s Department has said that it is not investigating Jacob Williamson’s death as a hate crime. “This is an ongoing process and both defendants remain in custody,” Union County Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Lt. James Maye told The State. “There are no new charges at this point and all the information we have collected has been turned over the district attorney’s office.”

Please login or register to comment on this story.