Community mourns slain transgender woman
Kyra Cordova had one family — a mom, a grandmom, an aunt. She had a second family, too — members of the city’s gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community.
Both came together in sadness last Thursday night to share their memories of the transgender woman they said loved life, but whose days were tragically cut short.
Cordova, known to many as Kyra Kruz, was found shot to death shortly after 5 a.m. on Sept. 3 in woods on the 1100 block of Adams Ave. She was 27.
Her mother, Dawn Maher, told an overflow crowd at the memorial service that she had given birth to a beautiful baby boy 27 years ago. When that boy, Kris Herold, turned 16, he told her that he was gay, she said. Kris changed his sexual identity, she said, and her beautiful son became a wonderful daughter.
She was raised in Hatfield, Montgomery County, and graduated from North Penn High in Lansdale in 2003. She moved to Philadelphia about four years ago, said her aunt, Rhonda Herold.
The transgender group BLITZ organized the memorial for Cordova at the William Way LGBT Community Center in Center City, which drew about 200 people. Several speakers talked about her dedication, positive outlook, volunteerism and activism.
Afterward, many of the mourners lighted candles and walked around the Center City “gayborhood” centered around 13th and Spruce.
Police last week said officers responding to a radio call for a hospital case on Sept. 3 found Cordova with a gunshot wound to the head. Paramedics were called, and Cordova was pronounced dead at the scene. Police believe she was killed where her body was found. No one has been arrested in connection with the crime.
According to a flier handed out at the LGBT center, Cordova had purchased food and drinks at a nearby Wawa on Castor Avenue. The woods are behind a department store in an area that is in Northwood, where that neighborhood ends and Juniata begins. Frankford Avenue is a few blocks to the east.
Last Thursday, friends and acquaintances described Kyra Cordova as a positive force who brightened her surroundings and as someone dedicated to service.
Cordova came into the office of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative to volunteer, executive director Elicia Gonzales said Sept. 3. She almost immediately created a PowerPoint presentation of the non-profit organization’s services, Gonzales said. Her energetic volunteerism soon turned into a part-time job as an HIV tester.
“But she worked full-time,” Gonzales said, stressing Cordova’s dedication.
Philadelphia Gay News last week reported Cordova was active in gay pride events and was a volunteer for the Attic Youth Center, a non-profit that offers service to young gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people as well as young people who are questioning their sexual identities.
Friend Qui Alexander, who is a youth facilitator at Attic, said they both had their names legally changed recently on the same day, in the same courtroom.
Alexander said he didn’t know where Cordova was living. Police said last week they had no address for her.
“She moved around a lot,” Alexander said.
Maher said she believed her daughter was working days at a store in the Leo Mall in Somerton. She said Kyra recently had moved and was renting a room, but she never got the address.
Aunt Rhonda Herold said family members have been trying to work out where Kyra was living. She said they’re hearing either E Street or somewhere in Frankford, close to the El.
She said her niece was 6 feet tall and had black hair.
Kyra Kruz was the name Cordova used on social media sites. On her Facebook page, she wrote, “