NBC/Yahoo News: Aubrey Dameron was a voice for those who weren’t always heard. She opened her home to those who needed shelter. She stood up for those who were bullied. And she forgave those who spewed words of hate toward her because of who she was.
But in March 2019, her voice went silent.
The 25-year-old citizen of the Cherokee Nation lived on the outskirts of Grove, part of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma. According her aunt, Pam Smith, Aubrey had returned to her family’s home the previous summer, where she lived with her mother, brother, and stepfather.
Pam Smith and Aubrey’s uncle Christian Fencer are the siblings of Aubrey’s mother, Jen Byrd, and have become spokespeople for the family, as they rally to find their niece.
Pam told Dateline that Aubrey’s mother reported to police that in the early morning hours of March 9, 2019, she woke up around 3:30 a.m. and saw Aubrey leaving the house. Aubrey told her family members, including her brother, who was in the living room, that she was meeting up with a friend.
When she didn’t return home or answer calls to her cell, her family grew worried and reported her missing.
And when Pam heard that her niece was missing, she became concerned because Aubrey was dependent on medication and she had left behind her medication and her purse. She added that the area is rural and there is nowhere within walking distance where Aubrey would have gone.
Pam said she and Christian were also concerned because they feared Aubrey, a transgender woman in the process of transitioning, may have been the victim of a hate crime. Pam told Dateline her niece was given a hard time when she told her friends and family in high school.
“There were people who mocked her and called her transphobic slurs,” Pam said. “But she stayed true to herself. And she never wanted revenge. Instead she would pray for them.”
Aubrey, also known by her nickname “Shorty” by her loved ones, had returned from having surgery in New Mexico the summer before she vanished. Pam said her niece referred to herself as a two-spirit, a Native American term describing people possessing a blend of male and female spirits. Continue reading…