Jasmine Wright, a recent graduate of Drexel University School of Public Health, was found dead July 16 in her apartment in West Philadelphia. The 27-year-old was beaten and strangled to death in her third floor 50th Street apartment. She was discovered by an apartment attendant who checked on Wright after her father called, concerned because he hadn’t heard from her in a few days.
Neighbors of Wright described her as a quiet girl. She was known for working toward the improvement of lives of those less fortunate than her. After earning her master’s degree in environmental and occupational health, Wright engaged in raising $2,361 for the Global Brigade traveling to Senegal and Gambia last year, while also researching healthcare access.
There was no sign of forced entry, nor was anything stolen — which indicates that Wright had known her attacker. She was not sexually assaulted prior to the attack, though the wounds she suffered pointed to somebody in extreme rage. Police believe that she had been dead for approximately 24 hours when she was first found.
The Philadelphia Police Department has identified a 56-year-old former handyman of the building as a person of interest in the case. Wright’s neighbors informed detectives that he may have information about Wright’s final hours. The suspect has not yet been charged with her murder, but court records show that he is currently held in custody on $5 million bail at Curran-Fromhold Correctional Facility convicted of burglary and other charges from an incident July 15, the night before Wright was found dead. Investigators are awaiting DNA test results that will confirm or deny his association with the murder.
On July 20, over a 100 members of the community, including Wright’s family and members of the Drexel community, gathered at the Monumental Baptist Church for a prayer service in memory of Wright. The service was followed by a nighttime vigil where those assembled released balloons into the night. The outpouring support continues on Wright’s Facebook page, where a friend, Swapna Dream Bhatia, commented on a photo of her graduation cap: “A young, black, educated QUEEN. I remember when I saw that [on your cap] at graduation and smiled because I thought you were brilliant to write that… You were going to change the world. You will be so missed.”
Many of Wright’s friends on Twitter have expressed their sympathies about the situation as well under the hashtag #JasmineWright. Marty Kohn, one of these tweeters expressed, “If you had the change to meet and hang around Jas, you knew how much of a kind spirit she was.”
For those affected by her death, counseling services are found at the Drexel Counseling Center, which can be reached by calling 215-895-1415 during regular hours or 215-416-3337 during emergency hours.