Man, Teen Arrested in Murder of Transgender Maryland Woman

A man and a teenager have been arrested in the murder of a transgender woman found dead last month in a hotel room in Rockville, Maryland.

Keith Christopher Renier, 21, and Arbra Arnie Bethea, 17, were charged with first-degree murder in the death of 22-year-old Keyonna Blakeney, Montgomery County police said Wednesday. Bethea was charged as an adult.

The pair also each were charged with armed robbery, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit armed robbery. They were arrested in D.C. and await extradition to Montgomery County.

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Blakeney, of Upper Marlboro, was found dead April 16 in a room of the Rockville Red Roof Inn on Shady Grove Road. Police believe that she and the suspects had rented rooms at the motel to “engage in prostitution.”

A confrontation in Blakeney’s hotel room between she and the suspects turned violent, police said. She was stabbed multiple times and found dead in the room about 11:50 a.m. April 16, according to police. 

According to Blakeney's Facebook page, she worked as a makeup artist, attended Bowie State University and celebrated her birthday just days before she was killed.

Police did not release additional information on the suspects.

Another transgender woman, Zella Ziona, 21, was shot and killed in Montgomery County in Oct. 2015. A man police said had been her friend, Rico Hector Leblond, was charged with first-degree murder.

At the time, prosecutors said they could not recall another deadly attack on a transgender person in the county.

Transgender people face an increased rate of violence, and more transgender people were killed in 2015 -- 21 people -- than in any other year on record, according to the Human Rights Campaign, an advocacy organization.

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