Nashville Community Leader Found Dead In Her Home, Missing Husband Charged
Shawnton Clay GoFundMe Page

A Nashville woman is being mourned by family, friends, and a community of Black women apart of a national health movement, days after she failed to show up at work.

The husband of the 30-year-old GirlTrek organizer Shawnton Clay has been charged with criminal homicide in her death, reports local NBC affiliate MSWV, who also said that police are asking for help in locating the suspect.

Clay is believed to have died on Saturday morning in her home at the Avalon Apartments, which she shared with her husband Ronald Dickens, 42, whom she was divorcing.

Clay’s family first went to the residence to check on her, and found her lifeless inside. Authorities observed signs of trauma on her body. The Metro Nashville police issued a warrant for Dickens’ arrest on Tuesday, and say they believe he may have fled the state.

“My baby was a ray of sunshine,” Clay’s mother, Lori Sanchez, told theTennessean. “She always had a positive attitude and tried to help everybody. She saw good in everyone no matter the situation.”

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Clay was particularly interested in helping Black women achieve their fitness and health goals. As a local team organizer for the GirlTrek, she often assembled groups of women both in her hometown and places she traveled for work, and encouraged them to get healthy and active through walking.

Upon news of her death, GirlTrek national spokeswoman Jewel Bush said in a statement to the Tennessean, “The GirlTrek sisterhood has lost a dedicated organizer and champion of Black women’s health.” Bush described Clay as a “bright light” within their community who personally believed in the power of the group’s mission.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by Clay’s colleagues to help with any expenses the family might incur in the wake of her death. Co-workers say they will remember her for “her love of hiking, turtles, and spreading mental health awareness.” 

The medical examiner’s office is still looking into Clay’s cause of death. Authorities urge anyone who sees Clay’s husband, Ronald Dickens, call the Emergency Communications Center at 615-862-8600. Police say Dickens may be driving the victim’s 2017 black Toyota Camry with license plate T4522V.