Crime

Did transgender woman meet her killer on dating website? Cops think so.

Jackson County investigators believe a former Navy man accused in the brutal stabbing death of a transgender woman last year may have been communicating with her through online dating sites and chat rooms before she was killed.

Dwanya Porche Hickerson, 21, is accused in the July 23, 2016, killing of Dee Whigham, 25, a nurse at Forest General Hospital.

Hickerson was a sailor studying to be a weather forecaster at Keesler Air Force Base in Biloxi. The Navy discharged him Feb. 8, Kate Meadows, public affairs officer for Naval Education and Training Command, said Thursday, though she did not elaborate on the action.

Whigham was on the Coast with friends when she was killed. Her friends found her dead in their St. Martin motel room. According to an autopsy report, her throat had been slashed three times and she had more than 100 stab wounds.

Prosecutors request warrant

Assistant District Attorney Cherie Wade filed a request to retrieve records on Whigham’s internet activity on her Yahoo, Apple, Google and Kik Interactive accounts to find any data that would show communication with Hickerson.

In the motion to obtain the search warrant, Wade said Whigham “had an iPhone which was burned” by Hickerson after the killing. Wade argued prosecutors and investigators needed to obtain information from Whigham’s iCloud account as well as any emails from her Yahoo and Google accounts and her Kik Interactive online messaging system.

In addition, Jackson County sheriff’s Investigator Leo Allen said in a sworn affidavit deputies learned Whigham and Hickerson both used online dating apps and the Kik messaging system, as well as other internet apps and emails, to communicate and meet with people.

Judge Robert Krebs issued the order to grant the subpoenas.

The killing

Hotel surveillance recorded images of Hickerson and Whigham walking together in a hallway and going into a room about 8:30 p.m. at the St. Martin motel where Whigham was killed. About 20 minutes later, the video shows Hickerson coming out of the room with his shirt off, hanging around his neck.

Whigham’s friends found her a short time later and called police.

Investigators saw the shower in her room was still running and had blood in it. They later publicized the hotel video on social media to try to identify Hickerson.

Someone from Keesler called to identify him after seeing the video.

The evidence

Investigators later found video of man believed to be Hickerson coming out of the barracks at Keesler and throwing a bag into a Dumpster. Officials said it contained bloody clothes.

In addition, investigators found witnesses who gave Hickerson a ride back to Keesler after the slaying. Other witnesses said they gave Hickerson a ride to the beach near some fire pits where investigators found a fixed-blade knife and other burned items. All of the items are believed to be connected to Whigham’s killing.

Investigators also recovered a T-shirt with blood on it in a Dumpster at Keesler. It matched the description of the shirt Hickerson was seen wearing on the hotel surveillance video.

Trial pending

Hickerson has remained jailed without bond on a capital murder charge since his arrest. Capital murder is a murder committed during the commission of another felony crime, in this case robbery.

His trial is set for August. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of either life without parole or death.

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