Such a sad and shocking story, even within the sea of tragedy that is the last few years of the Black Lives Matter movement.
A 19-year-old activist named Oluwatoyin Salau, known by her friends and supporters as Toyin, disappeared just over a week ago in her home state of Florida.
Unfortunately the weeklong search came to an end on Saturday night as police found the outspoken teenager dead, along with a 75-year-old retiree and AARP volunteer named Victoria Sims, who had also been reported missing.
The Tallahassee Police Department is treating both deaths as homicides and even has a suspect in custody, a 49-year-old man named Aaron Glee Jr. Court records show Glee had been arrested twice in the past month. On May 30 he was charged with aggravated battery causing bodily harm or disability, and on June 9 with a charge of battery touch or strike.
Unfortunately the picture we have at the moment is woefully incomplete; police have not yet established a relationship between the two women or between them and the suspect.
So what happened?! Toyin herself may have given us the best clues to the open case. On June 6, just hours before she was last seen, she tweeted:
“Anyways I was molested in Tallahassee, Florida by a black man this morning at 5:30 on Richview and Park Ave. 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.”
Warning: the story only gets more graphic and harrowing from here.
“He came disguised as a man of God and ended up picking me up from nearby Saxon Street. I entered his truck only because I carry anything to defend myself not even a phone (which is currently at the church) and I have poor vision. I trusted the holy spirit to keep me safe.”
“When we arrived at his house he offered me a shower and I thanked him and shower and he gave me a change of clothes. He exposed himself to me by peeing with the bathroom open obviously knowing I was out of it…”
Toyin wisely took a moment to retweet the start of the thread with more information on the man she described:
“Mid 40’s lives in a gray painted duplex apartment style house drives a white clean Silverado Chevrolet truck”
She then mentioned telling the man about an earlier sexual assault she had suffered. It unfortunately did not deter him.
In another tweet she explained she didn’t want to go to sleep “because I knew if I did the man would’ve tried to harm me.” She also said she kept her distance — which also didn’t work.
“Going back to the situation that happened to me this morning, I did not fall asleep. He then asked me if I wanted a massage at this moment his roommate who was in the house was asleep. I was laying on my stomach trying to calm myself down from severe ptsd. He started touching my back and rubbing my body using my body until he climaxed and then went to sleep. Before I realized what happened to me I looked over and his clothes were completely off. Once I saw he was asleep I escaped from the house and started walking from Richview Road to anywhere else”
She then explained she tried to call the police — but to no avail:
“All of my belongings my phone my clothes shoes are all assumably at the church where I’ve been trying to track since I sought spiritual guidance/ refuge. I will not be silent. Literally wearing this man’s clothes right now DNA all over me because I couldn’t locate his house the moment I called the police because I couldn’t see.
The late teen was last seen in a public library; this was presumably where she wrote these tweets, which were sent from a computer using the Twitter Web App.
Was Glee the man she described, looking to quiet her? Was Sims trying to help? We just don’t know yet…
Toyin had become a local leader in the BLM movement. Footage of her speaking out about the deaths of George Floyd and others was widely circulated even before her passing. In one speech in front of the Tallahassee Police Department, she declared:
“I don’t want their names gone in vain.”
We hope the same for her. #JusticeForToyin
We’ll leave the last word for Gabrielle Union, who recently shared the story of her own assault at 19 years old. The Bring It On star was moved by the story of Toyin and posted on Instagram:
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She was 19. 19. 19. A baby. Oluwatoyin "Toyin" Salau was a 19 year old warrior who fought for US. She reported her sexual assault to police and days later was found murdered. The horrors she faced, the trauma she endured, all by 19 years old. Who cares for little Black girls, Black teens, Black women? Toyin deserved so much more. She fought for so much more for all of us. I can't shake it. I am her and she is me. I am alive to talk about surviving my rape at 19. She is not.. The work continues. The fight continues. The reckoning will continue. Toyin should be here. She was 19. A baby. Hold our babies tight. Love them. Protect them. Support them. 19. #BlackLivesMatter #AllBlackLivesMatter #JusticeForToyin
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