Support for LAist comes from
We Explain L.A.
Stay Connected

Share This


Transgender Woman Found Stabbed To Death In Her Apartment

Stories like these are only possible with your help!
You have the power to keep local news strong for the coming months. Your financial support today keeps our reporters ready to meet the needs of our city. Thank you for investing in your community.

A transgender woman was found stabbed to death early Saturday morning after firefighters responded to a call over a fire in her apartment.

Michelle Vash Payne was found stabbed to death on the kitchen floor of the apartment on the 14600 block of Saticoy Street in Van Nuys. Firefighters responded to a call just after 5 a.m. of a fire in the unit and broke in and put out a small fire in a bedroom. Authorities say Payne may have been partially burned, and that the murder weapon was found in the apartment. ABC 7 reports that the woman's boyfriend, who lived with her, is the prime suspect in the case.

Friends tell the station that the 33-year old Payne was open about being transgender. Neighbors say the couple had recently moved into the building and that they were constantly arguing or fighting, and that the had argued about an hour before firefighters showed up on the scene. Dani Guitierrez says his girlfriend told him, "'I guess they were having arguments in the night and then I heard silence. And the next thing you know there's a fire going on and they find the girl dead.'"

No photo or name of the boyfriend has been released, but the LAPD describe him as a black man in his mid-20s, standing about 5'8" and weighing 150 pounds.