A small crowd gathered at Lighthouse Community Church on Wednesday evening for a candlelight vigil for Dee Whigham, a 25-year-old transgender woman robbed and stabbed to death Saturday.
Whigham, of Shubuta, is remembered as a positive person with a promising career as a nurse at Forrest General Hospital in Hattiesburg.
“She really had a great understanding of who she was,” said the Rev. Errol Montgomery-Robertson Lighthouse’s pastor. “Apparently she was well-liked by her co-workers. … And she seemed to be very well-loved by her patients.”
Montgomery-Robertson called Whigham’s death a “brutal murder” and said it marks the first time a member of South Mississippi’s LGBT community has been directly targeted by such an act of violence.
“It’s quite distressing that there’s a need for these vigils,” the pastor said. “It’s sad that there needs to be an act of violence to bring people together.”
Just last month, Montgomery-Robertson helped organize a similar candlelight vigil in Biloxi to remember the 49 people killed in a mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
He said the small crowd in attendance Wednesday was expected, as Whigham was from the Hattiesburg area.
She had been visiting the Coast for the Gulf Coast Black Rodeo in Biloxi when her lifeless body was found in a Best Western hotel room in St. Martin.
Dwanya Hickerson, 20, of New Orleans was arrested Monday morning on a charge of capital murder in her killing. Hickerson is a U.S. Navy sailor and was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base at the time.
“It’s not a time for anger, but it is a time to think about what happened,” Montgomery-Robertson said. “A way to think about how we can move forward as a community.
“Our hearts ache, our tears flow, our anger rages. We feel a deep wound. We mourn the loss of what could have been, what would have been and what should be — but cannot.”