TDoR 2017 / 2017 / June / 13 / Josie Berrios (aka Kendra Adams and Kimbella Rosé)

Josie Berrios (aka Kendra Adams and Kimbella Rosé)

Age 28

13 Jun 2017
Ithaca, New York (USA)

TDoR list ref: tgeu/13-Jun-2017/Josie Berrios (aka Kendra Adams and Kimbella Rosé)

Josie Berrios (aka Kendra Adams and Kimbella Rosé)
Josie Berrios (aka Kendra Adams and Kimbella Rosé)

Josie’s burnt body was discovered inside a building at a construction site next to a can of petrol. Evidence, including surveillance video, led police to her boyfriend Michael Davis, 45.

In 2018 Davis pleaded guilty to charges of second degree murder.

On the day they buried Josie, those who loved her best bathed her casket in a cascade of color.

They huddled together, dozens of her closest family and friends, wearing ponchos against the heavy rain, and tossed handfuls of multi-colored sugar on the wooden box. The colors swirled atop the water-slicked casket as family and friends traced hearts and messages in the residue.

A friend played the ukulele and sang "Over the Rainbow." The crowd joined in, singing young Dorothy Gale's song about longing for a happier place, about yearning in the face of reality.

In a word, Josie's mother said, it was beautiful.

No one word could describe the 28-year-old woman they buried that day in Greensprings Natural Cemetery, near Josie's home of Ithaca. Beautiful — certainly, in spirit most of all, those who knew Josie Berrios say. She was generous, compassionate, colorful, bigger-than-life. That casket? Josie's mother Judy said they wanted it "decked out like the diva she was."

Josie, they say, exuded light — a light extinguished by her murder June 13, 2017, at the hands of her boyfriend, Michael Davis. The man and their volatile relationship had unnerved Josie's family, and the violence she suffered at his hands is horrifyingly familiar: More than half — 55%, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — of all female homicide victims in the United States are killed by an intimate partner.

Josie performed as a drag queen under the name Kimbella Rosé as part of the House of Merlot, a wine-themed drag house. Her stage name was as Kimbella Rosé.

Though Josie was a woman, not a man dressing as a woman as many other performers were, performing gave her an opportunity to step outside the typical dress code of everyday life. On stage she could be bold, putting on extra makeup and dressing up in fun costumes.

She had solid plans, detailed dreams: to legally change her name to Kendra Adams and get her driver's license, then to apply for cosmetology school and become a licensed professional.

Something always seemed to get in the way.

She had no transportation to the Rochester cosmetology school, she fell behind in the paperwork, and there were constantly more immediate needs for the money she and Judy had set aside.

"(Transgender people) need opportunities," Maurer said, "and in my mind, those opportunities are things many transgender people face barriers to: public employment, education, easy ability to obtain identity documents. It's not because of you and your identity; it's because of the conditions around you."

Report added: 1 Sep 2018. Last updated: 13 Jan 2021

Trigger warning

This site contains reports of violence against transgender people, and links to detailed reports which contain graphic imagery.

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