Authorities have released little information about the death of a Florida transgender woman found in her car burned beyond recognition, despite a public outcry for more information in the case.
The body of 23-year-old Bee Love Slater was found Sept. 4 inside her charred car in Clewiston, Florida, shortly after she'd sent her best friend text messages saying she was worried about her safety, according to local station WINK.
Slater allegedly told her best friend Kenard Wade that she planned to get out of town, but the 23-year-old would never get the opportunity and was later found burned so severely authorities had to use dental records to positively identify the body.
Wade called Slater a “sweetheart” who didn’t deserve the fate she received.
"She would never harm anyone, never put anyone in harm's way. How could someone go to that extreme to get rid of her?" he said.
Wade and others in the community believe Slater was targeted because she was a transgender woman—but authorities have not yet announced whether they believe her death was a hate crime.
"We've not been able nail down a possible hate-crime angle, as far as I know," Capt. Susan Harrelle, a public information officer at the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC News.
Harrelle told People that investigators had yet to determine a motive in the death—however, authorities are investigating the case as a homicide.
“Officially, we don’t know the motive, but we are working towards that,” she said. “Investigators are diligently following up on all leads.”
South Florida’s LGBTQ community has been frustrated with the lack of information about the case, according to ABC News; however, Harrelle said investigators do not want to release too much information due to privacy concerns.
“They’re not releasing a lot of information because it’s an active, ongoing investigation,” she said. “I can only suspect that some of what they’re learning is really sensitive.”
In a post about Slater’s death, the ACLU of Florida said “society needs to work to ensure trans people can live without fear.”
Slater is the 18th transgender person to be shot or violently killed in the U.S. this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. At least 26 transgender people died due to violence in 2018, nationally.
“These victims were killed by acquaintances, partners and strangers, some of whom have been arrested and charged, while others have yet to be identified,” they wrote. “Some of these cases involve clear anti-transgender bias. In others, the victim’s transgender status may have put them at risk in other ways, such as forcing them into unemployment, poverty, homelessness and/or survival sex work.”
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