Transgender woman found dead in a Harlem Dumpster

DeeDee Thomas and family
DeeDee Thomas’ relatives outside Herbert T. McCall Funeral Home in the Bronx following a memorial service for the 42-year-old woman on June 25. Photo: Dorian Geiger

Police are calling the death of DeeDee Thomas, 42 “suspicious” a month after her badly decomposed body was found in a New York City Dumpster, oxygen first reported. This is all that DeeDee Thomas’s family has been told and they are demanding answers.

Foul play is suspected, however, her death hasn’t yet been ruled a homicide. It’s also unclear how she may have died. An autopsy is pending.

“This is a mystery,” David Rucker, DeeDee Thomas’ brother said. “I don’t know how she wound up in there like that. And who would do something like that? She can’t do that by herself. I need answers but they not giving me no answers.”

Thomas’s brother criticized investigators for being non-communicative since opening the case.

“They haven’t called me yet, they haven’t told me anything,” he added.

Police said a 43-year-old man collecting cans on the FDR Drive promenade between East 112th and East 114th streets made the grisly find shortly after 2:30 a.m.

The unidentified man knocked over a garbage can while digging around and noticed a large amount of blood spill out, cops said.

The man called the police, who then discovered the body stuffed in a bag inside the receptacle the NY Post reports.

DeeDee Thomas
DeeDee Thomas’ relatives outside Herbert T. McCall Funeral Home in the Bronx following a memorial service for the 42-year-old woman on June 25. Photo: Dorian Geiger

The District Attorney’s Office wouldn’t specifically confirm that Thomas’ death is being investigated as a hate crime, but did direct anyone with information on the case to contact the office’s hate crimes hotline. Her body was so badly decomposed, however, that investigators weren’t immediately able to determine a cause and manner of death. Homicide detectives assigned to the case are now awaiting forensic pathology results.

“The Manhattan D.A.’s Office is fully committed to protecting the lives of transgender women of color, who are far too often the victims of violent crime,” a spokesperson for the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office said in a prepared statement.

“[DeeDee] is notable for dying in Pride month and nobody is talking about it,” Mariah Lopez, executive director of S.T.A.R.R., America’s oldest transgender rights organization, told

The 36-year-old trans activist knew Thomas personally. She explained that the area where Thomas’ body was found is “very dangerous.” She, too, is restlessly waiting on autopsy results.

“They didn’t need to dispose of her like trash,” Lopez added. “She did not get there by accident. She was either murdered or she got there because we failed her. You don’t ignore a person who died and whose body is disposed of in the street.”

Anyone with information related to Thomas’ death is urged to contact the New York City Police Department’s Crime Stopper tip line at 1-800-577-8477 or by calling the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office Hate Crimes Hotline at 212-335-3100.

DeeDee’s memorial was held on Friday, June 25 2021 at the Herbert T. McCall Funeral Home, Bronx, NY.

Rest in Peace and Power DeeDee Thomas
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Kelli, Busey is managing editor at Planet Transgender