Grove, Oklahoma trans woman missing since March 9

Aubrey Dameron has been missing since March 9. Photo provided.

by Tera Bryant
and Robin Dorner

Is there anything worse than when a loved one goes missing? The family of Aubrey Dameron knows this all too well. On March 9, 2019, Dameron walked out the front door from her mother’s home in Grove, Oklahoma at about 3:30 a.m. and was never seen again.

Her family’s concern grew after several days of not hearing from her or seeing any activity on her social media accounts. She often actively participated in having a social media presence typical of a 25-year-old old.

Unlike any other missing young woman, Dameron proudly identified as an Indigenous transgender woman.

“Aubrey has been missing now for over [120] days with no trace and no communication,” said Richie Castaldo. “She never attended Celebrate Recovery after that night when she called me begging to help her overcome her struggles.”

Castaldo was concerned about Dameron because he had to explain to her just days before her disappearance that the Celebrate Recovery at Newsong Church of Grove made the decision that people must use the bathrooms according to the gender they were assigned at birth.

“She knew Newsong cared more about political correctness & an appearance of moral superiority (as well as a bogus concern about safety) than making her feel accepted there & even more than they cared about her sobriety and well-being,” said Castaldo.

As a member of the Cherokee tribe, Dameron has sadly joined the many cynical and negative minorities based, LGBTQ+ hate crime related, statistics that face her complex and mysterious case.

According to a study completed bythat Urban Indian Health Institute, 116 American Indian and Alaska Native women and girls have been entered in NamUs. During the same period, 5,712 reports matching the same criteria were entered in the National Crime Information Center. 71 cities, including OKC and Tulsa as well as 29 states were included in the study.

Indigenous women within the community have begun to look to Dameron as a representative of those missing and ignored native women that are not given priority due to continued systemic racism within “Indian Country.”

Captain Gayle Wells of the Delaware County Sheriff’s Department, received a search warrant for Dameron’s Facebook page and told media “she had sent numerous Facebook messages asking someone to pick her up from her mom’s house, but no one responded.”

Her GPS was reported to have its last verifiable ping at 3:42 a.m. on March 9. It was within 100 yards of her mother’s house when the trail went silent. After two days, her mother reported her missing. 

The first search party was organized two weeks later, on March 23 by Brian Smith of Oklahoma City Metro Search and Rescue Team. Smith said, “friends, family, strangers, and the team searched the heavily wooded area behind her mother’s house and expanded their search into the surrounding area. A sock was found by the Search and Rescue team with possible blood on it.

The Delaware County Sheriff’s Office sent it to the OSBI, and her family has yet to hear of the results.

“Because of her high-risk lifestyle, there [are] lots of possibilities about what happened or where she is,” Wells said. He directly implied that her gender identity and history of substance use had a hand in what may have occurred to Aubrey.

“So, I mean, with [the] worst-case scenario in mind, they’ve searched lots of places.” Law enforcement claimed they found text messages between Aubrey and various men that night. Her family maintains she was attempting to get a ride.

Her Uncle Christian Fencer said,” Someone shouldn’t have to prove they’re missing; we were told that ‘Aubrey knows exactly what she is doing.’”

The family and many members of the community have rallied to bring attention to what they believe to be poor handling of the case from the start, based primarily on the law enforcement “religious and moral preferences.”

Fencer added in his statement, “Our family had to wait nine days before law enforcement decided our niece was missing, anything may have happened in that time frame. Today, Aubrey is still missing, and we were given the underhand from the beginning of her disappearance because of people’s personal/religious beliefs of who Aubrey was a human.”

He continued, “As a transgender Native American woman, people see how her case was mistreated in the beginning. They see their daughter, their sister, their aunt, their cousins, their granddaughter. They know that she deserves justice and they have questioned the same things we the family have.”

He said law enforcement should “take missing persons who are a part of a minority to be taken seriously from the start.”

Anyone with information is asked to contact the OSBI at 1 (800) 522-8017 or the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office at (918) 253-4531. To offer encouragement, share the missing informational poster, etc., or get updates on the search for Aubrey, visit the Facebook page, Missing-Aubrey-Dameron-from-Grove-Oklahoma.

Copyright The Gayly. 6/30/2019 @ 12:27 a.m. CST.