Tragic Tale of Exotic Dancer Shows the Dark Underbelly of New York and Blue America

It’s another day in New York and there are more murders to record. For most, these are just more statistics: another person senselessly killed, another cold case.

Though for the family and loved ones, this is the end of a dream and a loss they’ll never come back from. Take the case of 25-year-old Imani Armstrong, slaughtered in New York’s Gramercy Park neighborhood.

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Imani’s Secret Life

Imani moved to New York several years ago to be with a woman she loved. She was working at a pancake restaurant when she was killed by the gunman.

What her family hadn’t realized is she was also working as a stripper to make ends meet.

Her aunt, Chanda Armstrong-Headen, said they “have to forgive” the killer because the Bible says to do so, and says she will leave “vengeance to God.”

It turned out after Imani’s death that her family members discovered she’d been working in an exotic dance club. She’d also spent time housed at a place for abused women in the city.

As her aunt said, they only found out about all this after Armstrong’s death, and “no one knew.”

What Was Going on in Imani’s Life?

What’s known at this time is Imani divorced from her wife. She had two kids who ended up in foster care in New York.

Her daughter Lilly was born at a time when Imani lived in Texas with her grandma, and her son was born while she lived in Virginia. She also had a third kid, but it was given up for adoption.

In 2018, Imani started dating a woman who her family didn’t approve of and eventually moved to New York to be with her; although their relationship became abusive and rough.

Imani’s dad, Paul, said the family is working their hardest to take custody of her kids and get them out of the foster system.

Lilly was especially close to Imani. He says he “prays” nobody told her yet about what happened because the shock would be overwhelming.

Her family said they are a “religious family” and wouldn’t have thought it right for her to be a stripper, but at the same time, they wouldn’t have “judged.”

Suspect at Large

The suspect was lurking outside IHOP where Imani worked. He then shot her in the back of the head before running away.


The attacker is still at large and hasn’t been caught. Motives are also unclear, and whether or not it’s connected to the drama that was going on in Imani’s life is not yet known.

What we know for sure is that this is the tragic story of one American family now ripped apart, and more murders in this rapidly collapsing society.

This article appeared in StatesmanPost and has been published here with permission.

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