Sad news from Fort Lauderdale: Denise King, mother of Simmie Williams Jr., an openly gay teen who was slain nearly two years on Sistrunk Boulevard, died suddenly on New Year’s Eve. King was 40 and collapsed in her apartment about two hours before midnight.
Here are details from Broward gay activist Michael Emanuel Rajner:
Less than two hours before midnight on New Year’s Eve 2009, Denise King, mother of Simmie Williams, Jr. (a 17-year old openly gay African-American teen murdered on Sistrunk Blvd. on February 22, 2008) collapsed and passed away at age 40 in her apartment, just two blocks from her son’s murder site.
Denise is survived by her children: Brittany (21), Terrell (17), Tavaris (16), and Davaughn (12); grandson Jamar, Jr. (3); her mother Maudie Lee; and her aunt Rose Barnes. Brittany is expected to give birth to a baby boy on February 22, 2010.
Denise was a devoted mother to her family and worked hard to provide opportunities for her children. Since February 2008, she struggled daily with anguish in the torment of Simmie’s murderer(s) not having been brought to justice. In the face of adversity, Denise remained a brave and strong woman and became a passionate spokeswoman fighting intolerance.
On February 22, 2008, 17-year old Simmie Williams, Jr. was gunned down on Sistrunk Boulevard. The case remains unsolved. Fort Lauderdale Police Chief Frank Adderley met with Brittany on New Year’s Day to personally extend his condolences and assure the family the Fort Lauderdale Police Department is still actively pursuing the murder investigation. The King family is calling upon anyone with information on Simmie’s murder to come forward and honor Denise King by providing information to Broward County Crime Stoppers at (954) 493-TIPS. Broward County Crime Stoppers is offering a $1,000 reward for anonymous information leading to an arrest.
A special fund has been established at the Gay and Lesbian Community Center/Pride Center to assist the King Family with funeral related expenses for Denise King. Checks should be made payable to “GLCC,” note the memo with “Denise King funeral,” and be mailed to GLCC/Pride Center, PO Box 70518, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33307-0518.
In 2008, the South Florida lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community raised nearly $4,000 to assist with funeral expenses for Simmie Williams, Jr. The Florida Attorney General’s Office still refuses to approve a claim for Simmie’s funeral expenses under the state’s Crime Victim Compensation Program.
Photos of Denise King, taken during a 2008 rally after the death of Simmie Williams Jr., by CHARLES TRAINOR JR. / Miami Herald Staff