Two murder cases spotlight trans community

A transgender sex worker spent the last week in prison, awaiting arraignment on murder charges for a recent killing at a Center City hotel.

Police arrested 22-year-old Herman Burton, who is reported to identify as a woman named Peaches, Nov. 2. The suspect is in custody at the Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility and will be arraigned Nov. 24.

Burton is charged with murder, theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property, arson, abuse of corpse and other charges in connection with the Oct. 30 murder of Patrick Michael Brady.

Burton is accused of beating and strangling Brady, 49, in his room at the Omni Hotel in the early-morning hours of Oct. 30. Burton allegedly set fire to Brady’s body following the murder.

Police still do not know what prompted the killing, which Homicide Capt. James Clark described as the result of an “extreme physical altercation.”

Police said this week they were still unclear how Brady, a married father from the suburbs, knew Burton.

Brady, an IT specialist at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital, who frequently stayed at The Omni when he had morning work meetings, had no prior arrest record other than a DUI charge from 1999 in Chester County.

Burton was arrested at 12th and Spruce streets after police spotted her on surveillance video taken at the hotel. When arrested, Burton was in possession of Brady’s credit card, identification and cell phone.

Burton has 36 prior arrests in the past few years for charges ranging from prostitution, reckless endangerment, making terroristic threats to aggravated assault, as well as prostitution-related charges including loitering.

Burton’s arrest comes the month after a local transwoman was the victim of strangulation.

Stacey Blahnik was murdered in her Manton Street home in South Philadelphia Oct. 11, strangled with a pillowcase by an unknown assailant.

The 31-year-old overall house mother for House of Blahnik was found by her boyfriend, who, Clark told PGN in an interview last week, is not a suspect and is cooperating fully with police.

Police spokesperson Lt. Ray Evers said homicide investigators are still piecing together evidence in the case. He cautioned that, while an arrest was made quickly in Brady’s murder, the Blahnik case is vastly different.

“You can’t compare one homicide to another. With the Omni one, we had video surveillance, we had cell-phone usage and credit-card usage. The Manton Street case is more difficult,” Evers said. “Even though the Omni Hotel incident got a lot of attention in the press, that makes no difference to the guys in Homicide. They worked as hard on that job as they’re working on the Manton Street job. Some investigations just have more meat on the bone, and some have a little less, but that just means they have to keep working, which is what they’re doing.”

Franny Price, chair of the Police Liaison Committee, said the group has been tracking both cases and she’s eager for resolution in the Blahnik murder.

“I just don’t want this to be another Nizah Morris case, where things get lost and forgotten,” Price said. “This is fresh right now, and it’s something the whole community’s involved with. It’s not going to be forgotten by this community. Somebody was murdered, and this needs to be solved.”

Jen Colletta can be reached at [email protected].