Dantjier Powell Sought In Connection With Slaying Of Domonique Newburn, Transgender Woman

FONTANA -- Police late Thursday identified Dantjier Powell, 18, of San Bernardino as a man they are looking for in connection with the slaying of transgendered reality television actress Domonique Newburn.

Investigators think Powell may be trying to leave the state via bus and may be accompanied by Jamie Nicole Cotton, 25, of Highland, authorities said.

Police also believe the suspect may have been involved in a sexual relationship with Newburn.

"There's a possibility the suspect and Newburn were involved in a relationship of some sort," said police spokesman Doug Imhof. "We are not investigating this as a hate crime at this time."

Police also said they are looking into the possibility Newburn may have been involved in the sex trades for hire.

Police discovered an advertisement for escort services was placed on the website with Newburn's photo attached to it, but officials have not confirmed if she posted the ad, Imhof said.

"Lots of transgendered people turn to the sex trades during their transition," said Tara Wallace, 26, a transgendered woman from Moreno Valley who attended a vigil on Wednesday night outside of Newburn's apartment. "Sometimes it's the only job they can get."

Newburn was found dead in her ground-level apartment in the 7900 block of Bennett Avenue around 4:30 p.m. Tuesday by police investigating a report of domestic violence.

During the investigation they discovered Newburn's car was missing along with some personal items. They believe the man suspected in the crime fled the scene in her car.

San Bernardino police found her car, a black Mercedes Benz, on Wednesday, abandoned at Perris Hill Park.

More than 40 people, including close friends who were devastated by the events leading to Newburn's death, converged on the lawn just outside her apartment on Wednesday night to hold a candlelight vigil for the slain woman.

Tony Brown, a childhood friend of Newburn -- whose birth name is Daymond Watford -- broke down while talking about his friend.

"He was a good person. He didn't deserve this," he said. "We were going to hang out with him. He had just texted my sister. It's really sad that somebody killed him,"

Others at the vigil had never met Newburn but decided to show up to support her and make a plea for justice.

"I didn't know her but I wanted to come support every transgendered person out there by being here, being a voice," Wallace said. "This is a tragedy that shouldn't happen to anyone."

Wallace knows just how much her life changed when she made the life-altering decision to transcend into womanhood.

"I work at a market and sometimes I'd get bad looks or comments from customers," Wallace said. "But I have and I'm going to live my life and have a be-happy attitude."

Some other transgendered people live their lives as who they are, but still have concerns about being out in public every day.

"I'm always afraid of what someone will do because of who I am," said Finn Indovina, 49, a transgendered man from Riverside. "I don't want to end up dead like Domonique. There are people out there that play into their own fears and that's when innocent people just living their lives get hurt or worse yet, killed."

Police are working around the clock to find the man they suspect in the homicide, officials said.

"I just hope they catch the man who did this," said Isabel Ramirez, a transgendered woman from Riverside. "This is a despicable crime and the culprit needs to be arrested and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

On Thursday, investigators developed information that led them to a possible suspect in the case, police said in a statement.

Investigators served search warrants at two San Bernardino locations with the help of the Inland Valley Special Weapons and Tactics unit.

Several people were detained and some evidence was collected, the statement said.

Police developed additional information that led them to Powell as a possible suspect, Imhof said.


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