VAN NUYS (CBSLA.com) — A man has been arrested for the murder of a 33-year-old transgender woman in Van Nuys.
The victim’s boyfriend, Ezekiel Jamal Dear, 25, turned himself into authorities late Sunday, the LAPD said.
Yazmin Vash Payne, also known as Michael, was found earlier that day with multiple stab wounds when crews responded to a report of a fire at her apartment in the 14600 block of Saticoy Street.
Authorities said they discovered Payne’s body when they forced their way into the apartment. They quickly extinguished a small fire in the rear bedroom and then found the victim lying on the kitchen floor.
Paramedics pronounced Payne dead at the scene.
“There’s some of the physical evidence that is lost because of the fire,” said LAPD Det. Robert Bub. “The fire itself, and how it was started, and where it spreads from provides it’s own clues.”
Payne reportedly lived Dear at the apartment, according to neighbors.
Those residents reported hearing arguments throughout the night before the fire broke out, but explained it wasn’t something out of the ordinary for the couple.
According to detectives, they were able to recover the murder weapon at the scene.
Dear turned himself in after confiding in a pastor.
“He approached the pastor and wanted his help. At that point, the pastor took him to the 77th Station where he surrendered to the police department without incident,” Capt. Lillian Carranza said.
A vigil was held Sunday outside Payne’s apartment to honor her and march down Saticoy Street in protest. They said they didn’t know Payne, but they still felt compelled to come.
“She belonged to somebody, she was somebody’s child, someone cared for her,” Jazzmun Crayton said. “She chose to live a life that was pleasing to her, and it’s not fair, it didn’t make sense and it’s not right.”
“They’re killing us and nobody cares,” Bamby Salcedo. “This is not an isolated incident. And it’s important that the LAPD continues to do what they’re supposed to do.”