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Day 28: Sherlyn Montoya
Photo from Dosmanzanas.com
*** IMPORTANT ***
This article mentions blood, violence, brutality, beating, torture, alledged homophobic hate crime, and distressing imagery.
Please continue with caution.
It was late at night on the 2nd of April, 2017 in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras. Most people were at home and getting ready for bed if they weren’t asleep already. It was the end of the weekend. Everyone wanted to get a full night’s rest for the next day. Mondays were hard for many people, especially teenagers and young adults who just wanted to spend their nights with friends.
Late that night, a young woman was on her way home from a long night. She had just finished a drag show in which she was a performer and she had a great time. She had spent her night surrounded by friends and a supportive community. Living in a country where the LGBTQ+ community was looked down upon and violence was common, it was nice to be with people who not only accepted you but who were just like you. The young woman had found a home there and life was looking good for her.
On her way home, she stopped off at a gas station. It was on the way and she needed to pick some things up and fill up the gas of the family car. She parked the car in the parking lot then got her purse and went into the gas station. She picked up a few groceries that she and her family really needed for the next day that she had completely forgotten to pick up earlier that day before her show.
When she got what she needed she went to the cash and paid for everything she had. She bought the gas and filled up the car. While she waited for the tank to fill up, she put the bags of groceries in the back seat of the car. When the tank was full, the young woman got ready to get in her car but a noise behind her stopped her in her tracks.
She turned around to see what had caused the mysterious noise and came face to face with a small group of men. Most of them had serious looks on their faces while some had smirks. Their expressions sent chills down the young woman’s back. It was clear to her that these men had ill intentions. They gave her the creeps and instantly made her feel uncomfortable. As far as she knew, she didn’t know any of the men. They had never met before that night.
She calmly asked them what they wanted and if she could help. The man who appeared to be the leader stared at her for a moment as he pondered the question. It looked like he was making up his mind and deciding on how he was going to respond. After a few moments, he finally spoke. He told the young woman that in fact, she could help them. All she would need to do was to follow them.
Of course, the young woman declined. It was late at night and these men were strangers. She politely declined the men and said that she really had to go home. Her family was expecting her and she was quite tired. The men didn’t like that response so again, they told her to go with them. They promised her that it would be worth her while but again she refused. She tried to be as polite as possible to these men. She couldn’t take any chances with them. One wrong move and they might try to harm her.
When the young woman didn’t seem to give in, the men decided to take matters into their own hands. The leader approached the woman while the others surrounded her to prevent her from leaving. Now she was on high alert. This was serious and she had to be very careful on how she proceeded. She looked up at the leader and asked him what was going on. He simply replied that she was being rude for refusing to go with them. He said that she needed to be taught a lesson.
Her eyes widened in fear. She knew what he was implying. He spoke in a sinister voice with a creepy looking grin on his face. The woman didn’t want any part of that.
She tried to run past him but the other men were quick to line up, shoulder to shoulder which prevented her from escaping. When she tried to get past them, two of the men grabbed her while another put a burlap sack over her head. She tried to scream but she was so surprised from the action that she was unable to let out a loud enough scream for people to hear. She struggled against the men but she was no match for them. She was out numbered and they were stronger than her. No matter how much she fought against them, it was no use.
The men dragged her away from the area to where there wasn’t any light. A good distance away from the gas station was the vehicle the men had arrived in. They had not intended to take this woman or anyone for that matter that night but when they saw her they decided to go for it. They knew that from the moment they saw her, she was different but not in a good way. She was different from others in the community and her kind were not welcome in “their” community. To the men, people like the young woman were not accepted and in their opinion, had no place among them. When they saw the woman, the men decided to show this young woman where her place was.
After shoving her in their car, they drove away to a building that they had designated as their little hide out or meet up spot. It wasn’t too close to other buildings so even if the woman started to scream loudly, no one would have been able to hear her. They hadn’t planned to use the building as a place to take people but it was the perfect spot.
When they arrived, the car stopped and the men got out. They forced the frightened young woman out of the car. The bag was still over her head making it impossible for her to see anything. The men shoved her in the general direction they wanted her to go. She went without hesitation. She had no choice but to do what they wanted her to. They were in control and she was blind. She was at their mercy.
She tried to stay brave but deep down she was terrified. She had no clue where she was or what the men were going to do to her. It was scary. No one said anything except for telling her to keep walking. They did so in a firm and very cold voice. At one point she was sure she could hear one of them chuckle when she stumbled on her way to her destination.
When they reached the room where she was to be held, the men forced her to sit down on a chair where they tied her up. She wanted to fight back against them but fear kept her still. If she resisted them, would they kill her? Turture her? She didn’t want to find out so she complied with every request and demand they made.
The men kept the young woman waiting hours and hours before interacting with her. It started off with just taunting her but when she didn’t give them the reaction they wanted it progressed into kicking then punching. Those started off lightly but eventually grew stronger and stronger the longer the young woman remained silent. The only sounds that came from her were small whimpers which was her reaction to the pain she felt from the kicks and hits. She didn’t speak a single word to her kidnappers out of fear.
Over a day later, the pain was overwhelming. The young woman had been subjected to all sorts of physical pain. The men had surrounded her and all of them took turns beating her. She could hear them laugh the entire time they did this. It was sickening and infuriating. She couldn’t believe that these monsters could be so cruel for seemingly no reason. They hadn’t even alluded to a reason as to why they kidnapped her. Perhaps it was just for their amusement which made them horrible and sick.
Underneath the sack on her head, tears were streaming down her face. She was unbelievably terrified. She just wanted all of this to end. It wouldn’t have mattered if they let her go or killed her. She just wanted the experience to end.
After many hours of the torture, her kindappers finally got tired of her. She wasn’t showing much reaction to the kicking and hitting. They grew tired of her quickly and thought that the best thing to do was to get rid of her.
One of the men left the room and came back with a rope in hand. He looked at the other men in the room and they all nodded. The man with the rope smirked and approached the young woman. She heard his footsteps as he grew closer. She tensed up as she tried to process what was going on. She was afraid to find out.
When the man made his way behind her he very suddenly wrapped the rope around her neck. She tensed up when she felt the rope tighten around her. She coughed and choked. She tried to get as much air as she could but her hands were bound. She couldn't fight back or attempt to loosen the rope. All she could do was sit there and feel the air escape her lungs. It was a terrifying feeling.
The young woman became lightheaded after minutes of strangulation. Eventually her eyes began to close and her head bobbed to the side. Her kidnappers knew she was close to death. The man continued to tighten the rope until she stopped moving then continued to hold it until he no longer saw her chest rise and fall. He held the rope in place until he was sure that she was dead.
Her name was Sherlyn Montoya and she was only 29 years old.
The body of Sherlyn Montoya was found two days after she went missing. She had been wrapped in burlap sacks and dumped in an alley located near the gas station where she was last seen.
She was killed by unknown people who are still free. She was working to support her elderly mother and 3 nieces at the time of her death.
Organizations such as The National Network of Human Rights Defenders, the Mesoamerican Initiative of Women Human Rights Defenders and the European Union have asked the country of Honduras to look into the case and arrest those responsible for the brutal murder.
Other groups who have demanded justice are: Asociación LGTB Arcoíris de Honduras, Grupo de Mujeres Transexuales (Muñecas Arcoíris), Grupo Lésbico Bisexual LITOS and Grupo de Hombres Transexuales (Muñecos Arcoíris). All of them are Honduran LGBTQ+ advocacy groups.
As of June 2020, there have been no arrests in this case.
Sherlyn Montoya was a drag performer and an active activist for the LGBTQ+ community. She was a member of a group called the Asociación LGBT Arcoíris (LGBT Rainbow Association) which focused on advocating issues of trandgender women in Honduras.
“El asesinato de la activista trans Sherlyn Montoya golpea de nuevo a la comunidad LGTB hondureña”. Flick. Dosmanzanas, 13 April 2017, https://www.dosmanzanas.com/2017/04/el-asesinato-de-la-activista-trans-sherlyn-montoya-golpea-de-nuevo-a-la-comunidad-lgtb-hondurena.html.
“Hallan muerto con signos de tortura a un travesti en Tegucigalpa”. La Prensa, 4 April 2017, https://www.laprensa.hn/sucesos/1059507-410/hallan-muerto-con-signos-de-tortura-a-un-travesti-en-tegucigalpa.
“Honduran Trans Activist Strangled Amid Rising Hate Crimes”. teleSUR, 12 April 2017, https://www.telesurenglish.net/news/Honduran-Trans-Activist-Strangled-Amid-Rising-Hate-Crimes-20170412-0027.html.
“Killing of LGBTI rights defender Sherlyn Montoya”. Front Line Defenders, 7 April 2017, https://www.frontlinedefenders.org/en/case/case-history-sherlyn-montoya.
““La Diva”a la que le apagaron sus sueños este día en la capital hondureña”. Redaccion Web. Tiempo Digital, 4 April 2017, https://tiempo.hn/sherlyn-montoya-la-diva-que-le-apagaron-sus-suenos-este-dia-en-la-capital-hondurena/.
“Asesinan a Sherlyn Montoya, defensora de derechos trans”. Astrolabio, 18 April 2017, https://www.astrolabio.com.mx/asesinan-a-sherlyn-montoya-defensora-de-derechos-trans/.
“Trans activist murdered in Honduras”. Ernesto Valle. Washington Blade, 10 April 2017, https://www.washingtonblade.com/2017/04/10/trans-activist-murdered-honduras/.
“Trans woman strangled to death after drag show in Honduras”. Joe Morgan. Gay Star News, 12 April 2017, https://www.gaystarnews.com/article/trans-woman-strangled-death-drag-show-honduras/.
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