A Dallas man accused of killing a transgender woman has now been linked to a total of three murders and is being eyed as a person of interest in the murder of another trans woman.
Kendrell Lavar Lyles, 34, was arrested on Wednesday, police in Dallas announced. He’s accused of killing three people in total, including 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker, a transgender woman whose shooting death has shone a light on how dangerous life can be for trans women, particuarly trans women of color.
Booker was found dead on May 18 “lying facedown in the street, deceased from homicidal violence," Major Vincent Weddington said at a news conference the next day.
Now there are questions about whether her alleged murderer is a serial killer.
Lyles has been linked to two other shootings in May. A woman was found fatally shot on May 22. Then a day later, a man was found shot to death, police say.
The suspect was arrested on June 5 after a citizen called in a tip claiming that Lyes provided information about the May 22 shooting. “This information was verified through phone records of communication between the victim and Lyles at the time of her death,” police wrote. As for the May 23 shooting, “a witness alleges that she and Arrestee Lyles drove to meet with the victim to engage in a drug transaction. The victim walked up to her car and he was shot by Arrestee Lyles and later died.”
The two victims who died on May 22 and 23 have not been identified.
As police investigated those two shootings, they said they were able to link Lyles to the Booker's murder by his car as “detectives recognized that Arrestee Lyles drove the same type car that is believed to have picked up Muhlaysia Booker on May 18, 2019.”
Lyles has been charged with three counts of murder. It’s not clear if he has a lawyer who can talk on his behalf at this time.
“I want to point out that our detectives have done an excellent job in investigating these cases and are to be commended for their diligence and coordination,” Major Max Geron, the commander of the Criminal Investigations Bureau for the Dallas Police Department, said during a press conference to announce Lyles' arrest. “Further, we extend thanks to our community because without the tips and witnesses coming forward, it is likely these cases would remain unsolved. It is through our partnerships with the community that we are all able to successfully combat crime.”
He said that Lyles is also a person of interest in the death of another black transgender woman, Chynal Lindsay. The 26-year-old’s body was pulled from a lake two weeks after the Booker's murder, CBS Dallas/Fort Worth reports.
"We know this is the second individual who is transgender who is deceased in our community and we are concerned," Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall said at a press conference following Lindsay's murder. "We are actively and aggressively investigating this case and we have reached out to our federal partners for assistance."
Hall said Lindsay died of “obvious signs of homicidal violence.”
It’s not clear if she was also shot.
After the arrest of Lyles, Geron said police will continue to investigate to see if they can link him to any other murders of trans women.
For now, he said the motives for the killings are not clear.
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