Oakland police release name of gay man killed Saturday

  • by John Ferrannini, Assistant Editor
  • Thursday March 9, 2023
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Curtis Marsh has been identified as the victim of an apparent stabbing March 4 at his home in Oakland.
Curtis Marsh has been identified as the victim of an apparent stabbing March 4 at his home in Oakland.

Oakland police have released the name of a 53-year-old gay Black man who was reportedly stabbed after a fire at his home in the city's Adams Point neighborhood Saturday morning, March 4.

Curtis Marsh was identified by Oakland police to the Bay Area Reporter on Thursday afternoon after notification of his next of kin. Police said that so far, their investigation shows no evidence of a hate crime.

Marsh was also known as drag artist Touri Monroe, according to friend Michael Keith Lee's post on Facebook.

"I remember seeing you perform many years ago at Cable's Reef and the Bench & Bar and every time you hit the stage you entertained," Lee wrote March 5. "We eventually became friends and even became part of the Mr./Mrs. Gay Oakland Family. This is still a shock and you'll truly be missed. Rest In Peace."

On his own Facebook page last summer, Marsh noted his drag persona was a Miss Gay Oakland emeritus.

Marsh had been a member of the Oakland Gay Men's Chorus, according to Joe Rosenmayer, president of the group's board of directors. He "was not currently singing with us ... we did receive word that he died through mutual friends and members from his church," Rosenmayer said.

According to his Facebook page, Marsh worked as a hairstylist and was from Burlington, Iowa, where he graduated from Burlington Community High School in 1987.

Nathaniel Collins, a longtime friend who now lives in Houston, told the B.A.R. that he met Marsh shortly after the latter first moved from Iowa in 1996.

"I hired him as a hairstylist," said Collins, who owned a hair salon at the time. "I've known him since then."

Marsh was always "the life of the party," Collins said. Marsh was Miss Gay Oakland in the late 1990s, Collins added.

"He was just a joy to be around. ... Everyone knew when Curtis was there the party would lighten up," Collins said. "He always had to clean up after. 'Where's Curtis?' 'He's in the kitchen helping the people clean up.'"

Marsh's body is being sent home to Iowa, Collins said, for a religious service.

"He was always in church, every Sunday," Collins said. "Do not disturb him between 11 o'clock to 1:30 [p.m.]. He sang in the choir."

Collins stated after the initial online publication of this report that Marsh attended Olivet Oakland Church. The church did not immediately return a request for comment Friday morning.

A vigil will be held Saturday, March 11, at 4 p.m. at the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, 3207 Lakeshore Avenue (entrance on Rand Avenue), according to an email announcement sent by the center.

Police are investigating the circumstances of Marsh's death, but Paul Chambers, the strategic communication manager for the Oakland Police Department, stated March 7 that there's "no evidence of a hate crime."

"Officers are actively investigating all possible leads," he added.

Police responded to the 200 block of Vernon Street just before 8 a.m. Saturday after a report of a disturbance, Oakland Police Officer Darryl Rodgers stated in an email to the B.A.R.

That "disturbance" consisted of "reports of an individual screaming," Chambers confirmed. When officers arrived, Oakland firefighters were on the scene extinguishing a fire.

"Upon arrival, officers located an Oakland resident with multiple lacerations," Rodgers stated. "The victim succumbed to their injuries and medical units pronounced the victim deceased on scene. Investigators from the OPD Homicide Section responded to the scene to begin the follow-up investigation into the circumstances surrounding the homicide."

As this is an active investigation, anyone with information is asked to contact the OPD homicide section at (510) 238-3821 or the tip line at (510) 238-7950.

Collins said he's "just sad" to learn about Marsh's death. He said he'd learned after a friend called.

"It was in his home and from what I understand we don't know if it was someone he knew, or someone he'd met, as it was early morning," Collins said. "The neighbors heard him screaming and saw him on the patio in a pool of blood."

Oakland Mayor Sheng Thao's office declined to comment for this report, referring the B.A.R. to OPD.

Oakland City Councilmember Carroll Fife, who represents District 3 where Marsh lived, did not immediately return a request for comment.

Updated, 3.10/23: This article has been updated to include information about a vigil on Saturday, March 11, at the Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, and the name of the church Marsh attended.

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