GUILDERLAND, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Friends of the victim in a Guilderland manslaughter case are speaking out about the loss of a good friend who they say was also a huge advocate within the LGBTQ community. News10’s Anya Tucker spoke with Soriya Conliffe and Ryan Ramdass who shared their thoughts and memories of their friend Kentish “Ken” Bennett.
“He was a really, really, really big part of the community,” said Ryan.
Soriya added, “He understood life is about fun. Life is about caring. Life is about being compassionate.”
They say when Ken wasn’t working in retail, he was being a strong advocate within the LGBTQ community. In the Capital Region and beyond, he was also widely known as Kayla Stennett, an icon in the world of drag. Ryan says Ken was multitalented. “His skill was absolutely amazing. He was such a well-rounded person. He could sing. He could dance. He could choreograph.”
Ken’s friends say he was born in Jamaica and moved to New York as a teen. They say that after he moved to Albany, Ken used his performance and artistic skills to advocate for anyone in need, which included raising funds for breast cancer awareness and planned parenthood. Soriya says he just wanted to help people, “To heal people. To make themselves feel better about themselves. To make them feel that there’s still hope.”
But Ken’s life came to a sudden end on Thursday, December 23, when police say they were called to a home where Bennett had sustained serious injuries that resulted in his death. Guilderland police say 43-year-old Jason Seminary of Duanesburg was arranged Sunday on a charge of second-degree manslaughter.
They confirm the home on Western Turnpike is owned and occupied by Seminary’s father and that they have been called to the home in the past. They are calling Ken’s death the result of a domestic incident. Ken’s friends say he and the suspect’s father had been in a long-term relationship.
Ryan and Soriya told us they would like to see their friend remembered for his brilliance on stage, how he mentored and loved those he knew. “That’s why he will be missed. Because he showed love. He was an envision of love,” said Soriya.
Both say they are working on a future memorial ceremony for Ken. In the meantime, they say his grieving family is planning a funeral.