OAKLAND (KPIX 5) — Family and friends of Natalia Smut, a transgender woman murdered in Milpitas last month, are mourning her loss and the loss of a lifetime of potential that will now never be realized.

“Natalia was beautiful. She had one of the biggest hearts you could ask for. And she would just light up a room as soon as she walked in,” said Vanessa Singh, Natalia Smut Lopez’s older sister.

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Vanessa says her younger sister commanded a room like she commanded a stage — all eyes and attention drawn to her like a magnet. She says Natalia was a natural-born performer, earning a living as a dancer and drag queen.

“My sister loved to perform. Anywhere she could get on a stage, she would drag it out and rock it out. She would be there,” Vanessa said.

But as proud as family and friends are of how the 24-year-old lived, they are equally haunted by how she died.

Milpitas Police say Natalia was stabbed to death at the Hillview Apartment Complex on August 23rd. According to investigators, they received a 911 call from Natalia’s boyfriend Elijah Cruz Segura claiming he’d stabbed her and needed help.

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Police arrested Segura at the scene. He was arraigned last week and remains in custody.

“It hurts. I’m outraged. I’m disappointed. It makes me want to work harder. But there’s always this sense of trauma,” says Sera Fernando, a trans activist.

Fernando says the trans community is disproportionately affected by violence — sometimes by strangers and sometimes by someone they know. The pain and loss, she says, is the same.

“For Natalia, she was loved and cherished by this community because there was something about her spirit and her willingness to be an authentic individual that really shined,” Fernando said.

 

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