Family members and members of the Orlando community are urging police to look into the circumstances surrounding the de*ath of a 30-year-old Black woman who was discovered hanging from a tree.
On Thursday, September 28 at approximately 7:40 a.m., Yolna Lubrin, also known as “Yo-Yo,” was discovered hanging from a tree in a backyard while police were responding to a “unattended de*ath” call, according to the Orlando Police Department. The woman was taken down from the tree by the police, who said they tried to save her life but she was declared de*ad there.
While the investigation is still ongoing, police have made statements regarding the incident in order to address “false information” on social media. They said that although the evidence suggests sui*cide, the medical examiner will ultimately determine the cause of de*ath.
Yo-Yo’s family feels that police assumed she had committed s*uicide and did not look into the matter sufficiently. The Lubrin family’s activists claim that the incident is similar to the de*ath of a Black man who was discovered han*ging in a tree three years prior and whose cause of de*ath was determined to be su*icide by the same police department.
“In general, they haven’t taken the necessary steps to offer additional clarification,” Naomi Lubrin, Yo-Yo’s sister, stated in a Thursday interview with USA TODAY. “I feel like they messed up horribly.”
Sister and Orlando community push for a closer look
The Orlando Sentinel reported that more than 60 people showed up at Orlando City Hall on Tuesday night to ask the police to look into her de*ath further.
Naomi Lubrin said that a lot of people came after seeing a video of Yo-Yo’s body that went viral on social media. This made people wonder how she could have k*illed herself in someone else’s backyard.
The video has been taken down from social media, but USA TODAY looked at it and saw that Yo-Yo’s chest was partially exposed in a way that her family doesn’t think suggests she ki*lled herself.
“She’s able to push her hand up and touch the house, literally,” she said. “So she can stand up.”
The same person who filmed her body also gave USA TODAY a video of Yo-Yo’s car outside the house. There are clothes and other things all over the car because all the doors are open. The windshield and door for the driver are broken.
“(Expletive), what went on last night?” This is what the man filming says in the background.
Naomi also talked about some “red flags” that she thought the police should have looked into further. The OPD wouldn’t say anything because the investigation is still going on, so they haven’t confirmed the following:
- Someone took the videos and now lives with another person in a small apartment behind the house where Yo-Yo was found. They didn’t call 911 when they saw the body because they were leaving for work. That day, they didn’t talk to the police.
- Even though Naomi got to the scene from her home in Fort Lauderdale a few hours after police said they would, they had already packed up and left.
- She was told by the police that they didn’t search either house because they didn’t have a good reason to.
- Texts that Yo-Yo sent the night before show that she was with someone she called “creepy.”
- Naomi heard a woman making a lot of noise that night from other people.
“They’re not looking into this at all and then just automatically ruled it as su*icide, and now they’re rekindling so they don’t know what direction to take it because they’re getting so many contacts from the community,” said Naomi.
Who was Yo-Yo Lubrin?
“She was a brilliant, smart, intelligent, young lady,” Naomi stated. “She was full of laughter… and always gave love.”
And Yolna was a great aunt to her nieces and nephews and took care of their disabled mother.
As Naomi put it, Yolna was an LGBTQ person who believed in coming together more than anything else. On Oct. 13, she would have been 31 years old.
Nathaniel said, “She had a good heart.” “This shouldn’t have been her story.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up by the family to help pay for the funeral and a second autopsy.
Police say evidence points to a su*icide
According to a statement from police to USA TODAY, the Orange County Medical Examiner’s Office will decide the official cause of de*ath. However, there is evidence that the de*ath was caused by sui*cide.
“We are concerned that there is false information being spread on social media regarding an incident involving a deceased individual,” the statement says. “While all de*ath investigations are predicated upon the existence of trauma to the body in order to determine a criminal act, our investigation has thus far not revealed any physical injuries other than the ligature marks on the neck caused by the hanging.”
The police also said that Lubrin’s history of mental illness, statements from witnesses, and cell phone records support their first conclusion. Homicide detectives from the Orlando Police Department went to the scene, but the statement didn’t say what they did to look into it.
The police said, “Every call that officers and detectives get, especially ones that involve the de*ath of a person, is never taken lightly.” They are also in touch with the victim’s family. “There are various factors involved when responding to an incident, from conducting life saving measures to utilizing investigative methods to determine what led to the de*ath of the individual.”
Activists join Lubrin’s sister to ask for Justice for Yo-Yo
“Justice for Yo-Yo,” the crowd chanted at the rally. A Facebook live feed from the event showed this.
Miles Mulrain is an activist and the founder of Let Your Voice Be Heard. Naomi Lubrin works with him. Lubrin and Mulrain said that getting more people to know about it helped them get a meeting with the sergeant, who promised to look into it fully. However, they stressed that police still think it was a sui*cide.
She wrote on Facebook the day after she was found, “No matter what, finding any black person hanging from a tree in 2023 needs MORE INVESTIGATION.”
She also said that the event is a lot like the de*ath of Nevan Baker, who was discovered in 2020 hanging from a tree in an Orlando park. Police and medical examiners said he k*illed himself, but civil rights lawyer Ben Crump said Baker’s hands were tied, teeth were missing, and his face was bruised, so the case should be looked into further. Police said this wasn’t true. USA TODAY asked Crump for a comment on Friday, but he didn’t answer right away.
The NAACP says that pictures of Black people hanging from trees are a reminder of lynching, which was the most common way for white people to control Black people without going to court in the 19th and 20th centuries. Lynching became a federal hate crime in 2022 when the Emmett Till Antilynching Act was signed into law by all 100 senators.
“It’s just that there’s no hurry.” “They don’t care,” Mulrain said. “It’s the lack of like consideration to even give us the benefit of doubt to investigate it fully and then come to a conclusion, not come to a conclusion in 24 hours.”
This story is about committing su*icide. Call or text the 988 Sui*cide & Crisis Lifeline at 988 or 1-800-273-8255, or go to 988lifeline.org and chat with someone if you or someone you know is having su*icidal thoughts.