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Police are investigating the apparent murder of a transgender woman who had been reported missing before her body was found in an alley by garbage workers.
Tatiana Labelle, 33, was found beaten to death in an alley near the intersections of South Ingleside Avenue and 84th Street shortly before 1:00 p.m. Friday, according to the Chicago Police Department.
The Chicago woman had been reported missing by family five days earlier, according to WLS-TV. Labelle died from "multiple injuries due to assault,” according to a preliminary autopsy conducted by the Cook County Medical Examiner’s Office.
"Once the garbage people pulled it up and the garbage flipped over, and everything fell out," a neighbor, who wasn’t identified, told Chicago ABC affiliate WLS-TV.
Investigators, who released little information regarding the woman’s death, haven’t officially identified Labelle. No arrests have been made.
“Detectives are still investigating,” a spokesperson for the Chicago Police Department told Oxygen.com on Friday.
Officials declined to comment further on the open investigation.
The slain 33-year-old’s family, however, confirmed her death.
"It is heartbreaking for someone to beat her to death and throw her in the trash like she was garbage," Labelle’s sister, Shameika Thomas told WLS-TV. "I loved my sister, whether she was transgender or not, and I would like for me and my family to have justice."
Authorities haven’t specified whether Labelle’s murder was possibly related to her gender identity.
Her family is now begging for an arrest to be made.
Since the troubling incident, community members in the area have since increased block patrols in the South Side Chicago neighborhood.
"The way in which she was brutally murdered, it's so heinous that there is no way we can reactively just say something. We have to become more proactive," Dr. LaShawn Littrice of Black Lives Matter Women of Faith also told WLS-TV.
Labelle’s’ death marks the seventh known murder of a transgender person in the U.S. so far this year, according to the the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBTQ advocacy group, which tracks transgender deaths.
“Tatiana’s death is horrific and represents a complete disregard for her life,” Tori Cooper, the director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative at the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) told Oxygen.com in a statement on Friday. “May her memory never be forgotten.”
In 2021, at least 57 transgender or non-conforming people were murdered, making it the “deadliest year on record” since the HRC began tracking trans murders in 2013.
Cooper, citing the recent murder of Chicago trans activist Elise Malary — whose body was found in Lake Michigan this month — highlighted the particularly increased dangers that Black trans people (and those who speak up for them) face.
“Chicago’s trans community is already mourning the loss of a local trans activist Elise Malary. It’s hard being Black and trans in America due to the enormous stigma against our community,” Cooper said. “We must all work to uplift Black, Brown, trans and non-binary people, and dismantle the systems of oppression that continue to threaten our lives.”
Other LGBTQ+ advocacy groups are also calling for a thorough investigation into Labelle's suspicious death.
"The epidemic of violence against Trans people, and especially Black Trans women, is a constant drum of unimaginable horror and pain for their families, friends, and the LGBTQ+ community," Jessica Veltstra, a board member of the Trans Doe Task Force, told Oxygen.com in a statement. "Tatiana was brutally murdered, and her body was left in a garbage can."
"She was someone's sister, someone's child, someone's friend," Velstra added. "There are truly no words that could adequately describe the amount of pain and damage this has caused. The person who murdered her needs to be caught. Tatiana and her loved ones deserve justice."
Anyone with additional information related to Labelle’s unsolved murder is urged to contact Chicago Police Department Area Two homicide detectives at 312-747-8271 or can submit an online anonymous tip.
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