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A Woodburn man accused of kidnapping and killing a transgender teenager and shooting at police has died by suicide in his jail cell, authorities said.
The Marion County sheriff’s office said Kenneth William Peden III was found unconscious early Wednesday in his Marion County Jail cell, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported.
Peden, 21, was pronounced dead at the scene. Peden was in jail without bail on charges of murder, kidnapping, attempted murder and assault in the death of a 17-year-old Gervais High School student Molly Taylor.
Gervais police responded to a disturbance May 12 and found Arik Reed with a gunshot wound. Reed was a friend of Taylor’s who was trying to stop the kidnapping when Peden shot him, authorities said.
Shortly afterward, a sheriff’s deputy located the truck Peden was driving with Taylor in the passenger seat. Troopers said Peden fired toward officers while traveling through Silverton before stopping and exchanging gunfire with law enforcement.
Peden was arrested and taken to jail. Taylor was flown to a hospital with a gunshot wound and died a week later.
A lawyer appointed to the case claimed Peden suffered head injuries during the police chase and shooting.
The Statesman-Journal reported more than 100 people attended a celebration of life for Taylor in June at Gervais High School.
The Linn County Sheriff’s Office is investigating Peden’s death.
Taylor's death marks at least the 38th transgender person in the United States to be murdered in 2021 so far; In 2020, at least 44 transgender people were murdered. There have been at least seven more homicides in 2021 than at the same point a year ago, according to the outlet them.
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