Slain transgender activist, domestic violence survivor leaves lasting impression

BOSTON — A well-known transgender rights activist and domestic violence survivor is being remembered across Massachusetts after she was killed in a horrific double murder. Jahaira DeAlto was one of two women killed in stabbing attack inside her Dorchester home on Sunday.

DeAlto has been a vocal advocate for the trans community since the 90s and was known for freely sharing her experiences to help others. She graduated from Berkshire Community College in 2019 where she left a lasting impression.

“She has a legacy that’s even far bigger than she was,” said Jonah Sykes, associate director of Marketing and Communications for Berkshire Community College. “It’s difficult to let it sink in that she’s not with us anymore.”

Sykes, who co-heads the school’s Queer Student Association, said DeAlto used her voice to bring attention to important issues.

“There’s a lot of domestic violence within the LGBTQ community, and Jahaira was a strong advocate for us to shed some light on that,” Sykes said.

DeAlto had most recently been working in Boston for the SafeLink hotline with the nonprofit Casa Myrna.

“Her job as an advocate wasn’t just a job; it was her mission, it was her life’s work,” said Stephanie Brown, CEO of Casa Myrna.

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Brown told Boston 25 News that DeAlto was supposed to be doing training for Casa Myrna to hep the nonprofit better understand working with trans survivors.

“She was an expert and could, from experience, really teach people about those intersections between LGBTQIA survivors and the issues folks face,” Brown explained.

Off the clock, DeAlto had been helping a couple by allowing them to stay at her home on Taft Street with their two kids. The husband, who had been living at the home, is now charged with murdering DeAlto and his wife 27-year-old Fatima Yasin.

Prosecutors said 34-year-old Marcus Chavis called 911 after the stabbings that happened while his 7 and 8-year-old kids were there. According to a police report, Chavis “was manic and crying, with blood on his shirt and hands.”

He reportedly told police he had been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder and schizophrenia. He also reportedly claimed that he didn’t remember how the stabbings happened.

Yasin was pronounced dead after arriving at the hospital, and DeAlto was pronounced dead on scene. DeAlto’s dog was found at the scene with several stab wounds and is now on oxygen awaiting surgery at Angell Animal Medical Center.