With no permanent place to live — and going from hotel to hotel — Keyonna Blakeney seemed poised to gain some stability.
The 22-year-old had rented an apartment, her sister said, and was planning to move in at the end of this month.
But before that move happened, Blakeney was killed early Saturday morning in her room at the Red Roof Inn in Rockville, authorities said Monday. Police identified her as a transgender woman and said she may have been engaged in prostitution when she was killed.
“Detectives have been working around the clock on this case,” said Capt. Paul Starks, a Montgomery County police spokesman. “We need anyone with information regarding the murder of Keyonna to contact us.”
Starks declined to say how Blakeney was killed, other than saying that she suffered trauma to her upper body.
“Someone out there is evil who did this,” Blakeney’s father, Kenny Linton, said in an interview Monday. “My son was, is, very special. He was kindhearted. He was down-to-earth. He would give you his last if he had it.”
Growing up, Keyonna went by the name Kenneth Blakeney.
He split time between his father’s home in the District and his mother’s home in Prince George’s County, according to his sister, Jasmine Blakeney.
“He didn’t do boys stuff; he did girls stuff,” Jasmine recalled.
He came out as gay in high school and started dressing as a woman after high school, according to his family.
“He was still my child. I couldn’t turn my back on who he was,” said Linton.
“She loved doing people’s makeup,” Jasmine Blakeney said. “She loved fashion. She loved all the glamorous stuff girls do.”
Blakeney said she accepted Keyonna’s choice. “That was my little brother. She wanted to be a girl so bad.”
Linton said that his son did not have steady income.
He said he sometimes gave his son money to stay in hotels. Linton said that he hoped that by moving into an apartment, Keyonna Blakeney would have more stability.
“She was hotel hopping,” Jasmine added. “She didn’t have nowhere to go.”
Police think Keyonna was assaulted and killed early Saturday morning in her room at the hotel on Shady Grove Road. Paramedics and police arrived about noon.
In a news release, officials said “Detectives have information that Keyonna may have been engaging in prostitution at the Red Roof Inn.”
Detectives urged anyone with information about the death to call 240-773-5070. Anonymous tipsters call 866-411-8477. A reward of up to $10,000 is available.