2015 seems to be the year that the cross hairs are on the trans community and for an estimated 16 transwomen, not in a good way.
The remains of Elisha Walker, 20, missing for a year, have been found in a ‘crude grave’ in Johnston County, North Carolina, more than 100 miles from her home in Salisbury.
Angel Dejesus Arias, 23, a Latin Kings member, was arrested and charged with killing Walker and stealing her car. He is being held on bond.
Some observers have placed the number of transgender women murdered this year at 16 following reports of deaths in Detroit, Phoenix and Texas.
Last year had an estimated 14 murders and 2015 still has four months left to go. Of the 13 recent murders, 11 have been of transwomen of colour. On Monday Monica Roberts, a transgender activist from Houston, set up a petition on the White House website calling for a federal investigation into the spate of violence against trans women of color. “Please take action to ensure this community does not have to live in fear of losing their lives to hate and violence”
Human Rights Campaign staff member Laya Monarez issued the following statement: “Even as we are seeing an increase in transgender visibility through a range of inspiring national media stories, including Caitlyn Jenner’s, the levels of violence and harassment transgender people face – particularly transgender women and transgender women of color – constitute a national crisis.”
Texas police this week announced an investigation into the murder of 22 year old Shade Schuler whose badly decomposed body was found in a Dallas field. It took three weeks to identify her remains. She is the fourth transwomen murdered in the US this week.
Activists in Michigan were asking for help from Detroit law enforcement, after 20-year-old Amber Monroe was shot and killed in Palmer Park. She was the fifth transgender woman to be killed in Palmer Park since 2014.
Kandis Capri, 35, was shot and killed in Phoenix Tuesday night.
Walker was reported missing in November 2014 after her family had not heard from her since October of that year. Local media were given information by the police in hopes of finding her but nothing turned up until the burnt remains of her 2000 Pontiac Sunfire were found in a field in Sampson County.
Arias had lived in a house in Salisbury that Walker had frequented, before he moved to Johnson County, some 100 miles away where he was arrested on drug charges. Police in Rowan County obtained a search warrant for a home in Johnson County where they discovered Walker’s body in a “small depression” behind the house.
North Carolina does not have a Hate Crimes Statute so Arias will not face Hate Crime Charges.
The Rowan County Sheriff’s office has referred to Walker with male pronouns despite it being known that she identified as a transgender woman. This is keeping with the way police departments around the country have handled the murder of trans women.
Friends, family, and people in the LGBT community have posted condolences on Walker’s Facebook page since news of her death was made public.