Days after being reported missing, Black Lives Matter protester, Oluwatoyin Salau, was found dead in Florida. In a statement to ESSENCE, the Tallahassee Police Department confirmed the 19-year-old’s death along with that of 75-year-old Victoria Sims in what appears to be a double homicide. The family of Salau also confirmed the news with the Tallahassee Democrat after rumors sent “Toyin” trending on Twitter Sunday night.
According to the police, Salau was found dead on Saturday night at approximately 9:15 p.m. after investigators went to a Tallahassee home to follow up on a missing person case. An initial missing person report was filed on June 6, just hours after Salau tweeted in detail about a man who sexually assaulted her after disguising himself as “a man of God” who she thought was trying to be of help.
“I was molested in Tallahassee, Florida by a black man this morning at 5:30 on Richview and Park Ave.,” Salau tweeted. “The man offered to give me a ride to find someplace to sleep and recollect my belongings from a church I refuged to a couple days back to escape unjust living conditions.” The teen activist went on to say that the man took her to his home, exposed himself to her, and began touching her without her consent. Salau shared that it was the second time this year that she had been sexually assaulted, giving the description and address of the man who previously forced her into pleasuring him sexually.
Danaya Hemphill, a friend of Salau, told The Democrat that she last saw her friend the day before she went missing and “had a feeling that we were not going to find Toyin alive.” She thought of the young activist as “a light in a dark room.”
Tallahassee police say the deaths are being investigated as homicides. Right now it is not known what the relationship was between Salau and Sims, a volunteer
Tributes to the young woman began flooding Twitter after social media user Ashley, @laurecapri, tweeted, “I’m sorry to inform everyone about this but Toyin is no longer with us.” She was originally working with Salau’s family to locate the teen.
The 19-year-old had become a mainstay at Tallahassee protests following the death of Tony McDade, a Black trans man killed by Florida police just days after the death of George Floyd. Calls for justice continue to rise in the aftermath of his death. The Tallahassee Police Department said an officer was responding to a fatal stabbing at an apartment complex when they came across McDade who was carrying a gun. The 38-year-old was shot and killed. Activists have called for a full investigation and accountability.
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Oluwatoyin Salau will be remembered for her passion, caring spirit, and loving attitude says her family and friends. Police say they’ve taken a 49-year-old man into custody but no confirmed charges have been filed in connection to her case.