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Human remains found on riverbank are those of a missing transgender woman allegedly killed with hammer by man she met on dating app: Police

William Haven Hicks, right, is accused of killing transgender woman KC Lee Johnson. (Wilmington Police Department)

William Haven Hicks, right, is accused of killing transgender woman KC Lee Johnson. (Johnson’s photo from Wilmington Police Department; Hicks photo from Myrtle Beach Police Department)

Human remains found on the banks of the Savannah River have been confirmed as those of a transgender woman missing since January, officials said.

The body of KC Lee Johnson, 27, of North Carolina, was found, the Wilmington Police Department said in a news release.

Johnson was killed in Wilmington, North Carolina, on Jan. 14, 2023, after being declared missing a day earlier, authorities said. Her remains were found on Jan. 18 on the bank of the Savannah River, authorities said.

William Haven Hicks, 26, was arrested in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, 74 miles away from the crime scene in Wilmington. He has been extradited to North Carolina and faces charges of first-degree murder, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and kidnapping in Johnson’s death, officials said.

Authorities said the two met on social media, reportedly on a dating app.

Johnson’s partner, Bulla Brodzinski, told NBC Wilmington, North Carolina, affiliate WECT she was kind and caring.

“She motivated me to get out of a dark place and get my life back together,” Brodzinski said, according to the station. “Finally, I was going on a good path. I was clean. I was taking better care of myself. I was getting out of that depressed state, and she was there for me. She was the one I could open up to.”

Johnson’s sister said on a GofundMe page that Johnson’s killer traveled out of state with her.

“We spent 4 1/2 days without knowing, and our worst fears have become a reality,” the page said. “This was obviously very unexpected, so the funds to pay for a funeral aren’t exactly there.”

LGBT magazine them reported Johnson was a manager at a Domino’s Pizza and was passionate about anime and manga.

Human Rights Campaign said her death is at least the second violent killing of a transgender or gender non-conforming person in 2023.

“We say ‘at least’ because too often these deaths go unreported — or misreported,” HRC said.

Citing an arrest warrant, Port City Daily said she was killed with a hammer in Wilmington, and the suspect stole her purse, ID and financial cards valued at $100.

He allegedly held her hostage, transported her without consent, and caused “serious bodily injury,” the station reported.

The case will go before a grand jury in the next several weeks, said Samantha Dooies, the assistant to New Hanover & Pender County District Attorney Benjamin David, in an email to Law&Crime.

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