Authorities charge known gang member in the death of missing transgender woman
By Shavonne Walker
Authorities have charged a known Latin Kings gang member in the death of a transgender woman after her remains were found Thursday buried in a shallow grave behind a home in Johnston County.
The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office charged Angel Dejesus Arias, 23, a former resident of Hemlock Drive, with the murder of Elisha Maurice Walker, 20, a Salisbury native, who’d been missing since November.
Arias is also charged with felony larceny of a motor vehicle.
In July 2015, Rowan detectives, with the use of a cadaver detection K-9, searched the area around Arias’ residence on Hemlock Drive. Rowan County Sheriff’s Detectives obtained additional information that Angel Arias was being held in the Johnston County Jail on unrelated drug charges. Detectives continued the investigation in Johnston County and were able to identify a residence located on Homestead Lane, outside Smithfield as a possible location of the remains of Elisha Walker.
On Thursday, Rowan County Sheriff’s detectives and crime scene investigators responded to Homestead Lane with the assistance of Johnston County Sheriff’s Office investigators and obtained a search warrant for the property.
Wake County Sheriff’s Office provided a Human Remains Detection trained K-9 to assist in the search of the property. The search began and officials said, around 7:30 p.m., they discovered a small depression in the woods behind the residence. Human remains, identified by property and description as Elisha Walker, were discovered in the “crude” grave.
The remains were sent to the Raleigh Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy and positive identification. Officials finished collecting evidence at the Homestead Lane home just before midnight. Arias is being held without bond in the Johnston County Jail awaiting transport back to Rowan County.
Arias has a number of misdemeanor convictions for driving infractions and was convicted in 2010 with felony common law robbery.
A Hemlock Drive neighbor, who did not want to be identified, said he is a captain with the community watch and said he didn’t know Arias. He lived next door to the 23-year-old, who also resided with a few others.
He estimated Arias lived at the home for about two-to-three months.
The neighbor said he’d see them come and go early and return late, but never really spoke. He recalled a couple of weeks ago that Rowan investigators arrived to search around the Hemlock Drive home with a search dog.
The neighbor said he didn’t recall seeing Elisha Walker at the home, but saw other women there.
“It’s a nice quiet neighborhood,” he said.
He said he never imagined the reason officials were searching the home had anything to do with a murder.
Rhonda Alexander, the mother of Elisha Walker, best described Elisha as a “free spirit.”
As a child, Elisha didn’t want to play with balls or a bat, she said. He wanted to play with dolls.
Elisha would grab his older sister’s dolls and his father would take them from him. He played sports, Alexander said, but he didn’t like sports.
“He lit up the room, was always funny and doing something to make people laugh,” she said.
Although Alexander didn’t agree with Elisha’s alternative lifestyle, she said it was “his choice” and when he turned 18 years old Elisha began wearing women’s clothing.
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