The mothers of two slain gay men have been close friends — and grieving — for years
BY SOFIA SANTANA
South Florida Sun-Sentinel
Five years and a half-mile separate the violent deaths of two young gay men who were dressed as women along Sistrunk Boulevard.
Timothy Broadus: 22, shot dead on Jan. 8, 2003.
Simmie Williams Jr.: 17, shot dead on Feb. 22, 2008.
Their mothers have been close friends for years.
"I can't believe it happened again," said Broadus' mother, Veta Calloway, 66. Now, she is hoping Williams' case will draw attention to her own son's death.
She tries to comfort Williams' mother, Denise King, 38, whom she met around the time Broadus was killed. Both families lived in the same Hollywood apartments at the time, and King dated Broadus' brother.
Williams was just 12 when Broadus died, and the two young men never met, the mothers said.
Both cases remain unsolved and do not appear to involve the same killer, police say, although there were similarities. Both victims identified themselves as gay and sometimes dressed as women, and they were both shot by killers who may have made anti-gay slurs.
Both victims were careful to use street names to shield their families from their activities on Sistrunk Boulevard. Broadus was known as "Cinnamon," and Williams was known as "Chris," "Beyoncé" and "Lil' Rick."
Broadus worked as a prostitute along a portion of Sistrunk favored by cross-dressing prostitutes and their customers, and Williams may have been doing the same, police said.
There is a suspect in Broadus' case, police said, and King said she has received several anonymous phone calls from people who think they know who shot her son. Williams' death is being investigated as a possible hate crime. Police say it's possible that Broadus' death may also have elements of a hate crime.
Williams was dressed as a woman when he was killed, wearing a white T-shirt knotted up to reveal his midriff, police said. His black Addidas bag, which he took everywhere and contained his ID, is missing, King said.
Both mothers recall how their sons, rather than go out with friends, surprised them shortly before their deaths with a day of close bonding.
Broadus did not live with his mother at the time but made a daylong visit to her home on Christmas Eve to talk and watch TV together.
"He said, "Momma, I'm going to spend the day with you,'" Calloway recalled, smiling.
Williams spent the day before his death cooking for his mother and talking about food, King said.
"My son was my best friend," she said, sitting on a couch in Calloway's Dania Beach home, wearing a white T-shirt printed with her son's photo and date of death. "You could tell him anything and he would tell you anything," she said, crying.
While Williams' recent death made headlines locally and in the national gay media, Broadus' killing garnered little attention.
Broadus died along Northwest 21st Avenue wearing a blond weave in an elaborate up-do that he had someone style the night of his death, Calloway said.
A man driving a gray or silver Honda Accord cruised Sistrunk, waving over a couple women and then motioning them away when he saw Broadus, police said. Broadus, about six feet tall and 200 pounds, strutted up to the car, put his arm up the roof and ducked down to the window. The driver fired a .38-caliber gun, and the bullet pierced Broadus under his arm, traveling through to his chest, Calloway said. Broadus fell dead in the street, his purse and cash scattered behind him, police said.
Over the course of the next month, police investigated anonymous tips and ran forensic tests on a seized car and the bullet that struck Broadus. But they never had enough evidence to warrant an arrest, officials said.
Detectives suspect Broadus may have been targeted in retaliation for a fistfight he had with another man at a gas station about two weeks before he was killed. It's unclear what that dispute was about, but Broadus' mother is convinced that someone was picking on her son because he was gay.
Mark Broadus, Timothy Broadus' brother who dated King, agrees about the possible motive. He had seen his brother working in the Sistrunk neighborhood. "A lot of people in that area don't like gay people," he said. "I was definitely worried something was going to happen."
Police arrested Broadus 15 times since 1998, six of the arrests involving prostitution charges, according to state records.
When news of Williams' death reached both families last month, each was collectively thinking "not again."
Both mothers say they find solace and strength at Lighthouse Church of God & Christ, in Fort Lauderdale.
As they sat together in Calloway's home earlier this week, both looked to the ground and shook their heads.
"They're dead," Calloway said.
"And they're not coming back," said King.
Anyone with information is asked to call Detective Mark Breen at 954-828-5708, Detective John Curcio at 954-828-5529 or Crime Stoppers at 954-493-TIPS.
Staff researchers Barbara Hijek and Bill Lucey contributed to this story.
Sofia Santana can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 954-356-4631.
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