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New Jersey Man Charged for the Murder of 23 Year Old Shai Vanderpump, Marks 32nd Known Trans Death

Daniel L. Smith has been arrested and charged for the murder of 23 year old Trenton, NJ resident, Shai Vanderpump. She is the 32nd known violent trans death victim this year. Sadly, her death also makes Vanderpump the 19th Black trans woman in the U.S. whose murder has been reported.

Trenton police say they responded to a report of a shooting at a home on Kelsey Avenue, around 4:40 a.m. Friday morning. Vanderpump was found with a gunshot wound to the face and was rushed to Capital Health Regional Medical Center, where she was pronounced dead soon after.

Police obtained a search warrant for the Kelsey Ave residence and with the help of witnesses, they were able to name Daniel L. Smith as the suspect in the murder. During a traffic stop late Sunday evening in Ewing, NJ, Smith was taken into custody by Mercer County Prosecutor’s Special Investigations Unit. Smith is charged with one count of murder and multiple weapon offenses.

Authorities are also investigating potential hate crime charge due to Vanderpump’s sexual orientation. Gender identity, along with sexual orientation, is a protected class under New Jersey’s statewide anti-bias statutes. Vanderpump’s death was a huge shock to her loved ones and her community.

According to Garden State Equality, Shai was well known in Trenton as “a fierce LGBTQ advocate”. On Sunday, a GoFundMe was created in Vanderpump’s memory, to aid in funeral expenses. According to the GoFundMe, Shai was murdered while protecting a loved one. She is described as a “superhero” with a a heart of gold.

It is so unfortunate to report yet another violent loss in our community. However, with the swift arrest of Daniel L. Smith, we pray Shai and her loved ones receive proper justice. Detectives are still investigating motive.

Anyone with information is asked to contact Detective Dave Petelle 609-989-6406. Tips can also be emailed to you would like to donate to Shai’s GoFundMe, you can do so here:


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