JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The family of the 21-year-old woman shot and killed earlier this month in Jacksonville is saying more about how she died, and wants people to know she was caught up in sex trafficking and was trying to get out of it.
Destiny Dennis showed up at Baptist Medical Center in San Marco Jan. 4 with a gunshot wound, according to a police incident report. The Jacksonville Sheriff's Office originally called her death undetermined, but now says it an active murder investigation.
Her mother, Emily Martin, told News4Jax earlier this week she was in a car with a man and her 5-month-old daughter heading for Atlanta when they stopped at a Jacksonville gas station. The police report said a man dropped her off at the hospital.
Dennis' brother reached out to News4Jax, saying their father wants the people of Jacksonville to know the rest of her story.
"'Tell them how your sister was a victim of sex trafficking,'" Kevin Taylor quoted his father as saying. "I was like, 'Pops, I don’t want to tell these people that.'"
Dennis, originally from Arkansas, was caught up in sex trafficking and was heading to Atlanta.
Family members in Texas said they’ve heard reports she died after a random shooting at a gas station, but they’re concerned she may have been recruiting other women.
News4Jax looked into the background of the man. He is from another state and has a lengthy arrest record, but JSO hasn't identified him or anyone else as a suspect.
The victim's father, Marcus Dennis, said her daughter had told her that she was involved in sex work.
"I was like, 'Babe, you don’t have to do this. You can come stay with me and your stepmom in Dallas,'" Marcus Dennis said. "She was telling her mom that she was going to stop doing it, but she was like, 'I still owe this guy money.'"
Sheriff Mike Williams said he can’t comment on the ongoing murder investigation, but says human and sex trafficking is something they’re working to fight every day.
"I don’t think we’ve even seen the bottom of the pool," Williams said. "We’ve got to get a gauge on how pervasive is the issue, and it’s more pervasive than a lot of people thought years ago."
Dennis' daughter is with now with relatives, who said she is doing well.