Crime

Sailor pleads not guilty to capital murder in death of transgender woman

Navy seaman charged with capital murder in death of transgender woman

Dwanya Hickerson, 20, of New Orleans, was arrested Monday, July 25, 2016, on a charge of capital murder in the killing of Dee Whigham of Shubuta. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell talks about the arrest.
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Dwanya Hickerson, 20, of New Orleans, was arrested Monday, July 25, 2016, on a charge of capital murder in the killing of Dee Whigham of Shubuta. Jackson County Sheriff Mike Ezell talks about the arrest.

A Navy sailor pleaded not guilty Thursday to capital murder in the brutal stabbing death of a transgender woman killed in a hotel room in St. Martin in July.

Dwanya Porche Hickerson, 20, a sailor stationed at Keesler Air Force Base for training, is accused in the July 23 stabbing death of 25-year-old Dee Whigham, a nurse at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg. Whigham was visiting the Coast with friends.

According to investigators, Whigham’s friends, who were sharing the hotel room with her, found her dead and cut up and called authorities. The shower, authorities have said, was still running and had blood in it.

An autopsy later showed Whigham had been stabbed more than 100 times, including stab wounds to the face. She was slashed three times in her neck slashed.

Hickerson was identified as a suspect shortly after authorities released surveillance video of a man leaving the hotel room with his shirt off and hanging around his neck.

Jackson County investigators got a call from someone at Keesler who could identify Hickerson. In addition, authorities recovered a video that showed a man coming out the barracks with a bag that he threw in a dumpster there. Authorities found bloody clothes in the bag.

Investigators found witnesses who gave Hickerson a ride back to Keesler. They also talked to people who said they gave Hickerson a ride to the beach. Authorities later found a fixed-blade knife and other belongings burned in fire pit on the Biloxi beach.

Prior to the killing, authorities said, Hickerson had borrowed the knife from a guy at Keesler.

At Keesler, investigators found a bloody T-shirt in a dumpster that looked like the shirt Hickerson was wearing around his neck after the killing.

Margaret Baker: 228-896-0538, @Margar45

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