28-Year-Old Josie Berrios Is the 13th Trans Person of Color Killed in the U.S. This Year

Josie Berrios (also known as Kendra Adams and Kimbella Rosé) was found dead in Ithaca, New York on Tuesday; she is the 13th trans person of color to be murdered in the United States this year. Berrios was one of the original and most beloved performers at Ithaca’s House of Merlot, a drag performance troupe that founded the Ithaca College Drag show for the Trevor Project in 2012 and has been raising funds for LGBTQ youth ever since.

On House of Merlot’s Facebook page, fellow performer Kat Von Riesling memorialized her friend, saying:

Kimbella, also known as Kendra Adams or Josie to some was one of our founding members of the House of Merlot before we were even official. She was usually full of energy, rarely on time, and always slayed her performances. A proud trans woman of color, she always tried her best to make new performers feel comfortable in our spaces. She recognised the realness in all of us without question and made us feel beautiful. She was part of so many families here in Ithaca, that many are feeling stunned and lost following this news. Her presence is still felt, and will never be forgotten.

The details of Berrios’ death can be found in Ithaca Voice‘s original reporting on the murder. She died of “apparent burns” and her body was found at a construction site near Collegetown. According to Ithaca Voice and accounts from friends on Facebook, Michael A. Davis, the man suspected and arrested for Berrios’ murder, knew her, which isn’t surprising. Most trans women who are murdered are victims of intimate partner violence. Nearly all of them are women of color, most of whom are Black women.

As our Trans Editor, Mey Rude, often notes, we write an obituary for a murdered trans woman twice a month, on average, and have been doing so for the last three years. It’s not even a bold prediction to say we’ll be writing another one before June is finished. We know of 23 trans women who were murdered in 2016. We’re already on pace to pass that number this year.

These are the names of the trans people whose lives were taken in 2017. They were all trans people of color.

Josie Berrios, 28

Mesha Caldwell, 41

Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow, 28

JoJo Striker, 23

Keke Collier, 24

Chyna Gibson, 31

Ciara McElveen, 21

Jaquarrius Holland, 18

Alphonza Watson, 38

Chay Reed, 29

Mx. Bostick, 59

Sherrell Faulkner, 46

Kenne McFadden, 27

According to the House of Merlot, this is the official GoFundMe for Josie’s funeral costs.

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Heather Hogan

Heather Hogan is an Autostraddle senior editor who lives in New York City with her wife, Stacy, and their cackle of rescued pets. She's a member of the Television Critics Association, GALECA: The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, and a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer critic. You can also find her on Twitter and Instagram.

Heather has written 1718 articles for us.


  1. Absolutely devestated. I did not personally know Josie, but have so many friends that do. She was very clearly such a wonderful and beloved person.

    My heart is with her, her loved ones, and Ithaca. I just can’t believe it, these horrible acts really can happen anywhere…

  2. I live in Ithaca and frequent the drag shows that Kendra performed in as Kimbella Rosé. While I didn’t know her personally, I can say that she always brought such amazing energy to the stage, and just generally seemed like a total sweetheart to everyone she interacted with. It was incredibly sad to hear of this.

    • Yeah, the fact that this was in Ithaca immediately got my attention. She was apparently one of my youngest sister’s friends. My sister and mom moved back to Ithaca (where we’re all originally from) when I was in college, so I don’t know most of my sister’s friends and had no idea until I shared the link with her this morning. ? RIP.

  3. This is such a disturbing epidemic – thank you Autostraddle for covering it where otherwise these stories would be invisible.

    I’m so sad. As a Quaker, we talk about “holding in the Light” – a type of prayer where you imagine the person / people being held in God’s presence and you offer love to them. I will be holding all of those affected by these tragedies in the Light.

  4. I knew Josie and this is such sad news. We had (numerous)drinks at the Chanticleer. She was kind, loving, and strong. And I was always happy to see her. I’ll miss her hugs and her smile.

    For those in the area there is a candlelight vigil for Josie/Kendra, this Sunday. It will be 7 p.m. at the Bernie Milton Pavilion, on the Commons.

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