Police vow to find fourth suspect in trans murder

BY Advocate.com Editors

October 23 2002 12:00 AM ET

Police are looking for a fourth man in the beating and strangling of a 17-year-old Newark, Calif., transgendered teen who went to a party dressed as a girl and was found two weeks later buried in a shallow grave. Witnesses told police a man named Jason was at the October 3 party where Lida Araujo is believed to have been killed. They did not release the suspect's last name. "There is a Jason," Alameda County deputy district attorney Theodore T. Landswick told the Los Angeles Times. "We will find him."

On Friday three men--Michael Magidson, 22, of Fremont, and Jaron Chase Nabors, 19, and Jose Merel, 24, both of Newark--were charged with murder, with a hate-crime enhancement. They are being held without bail and are expected back in court Thursday. Police believe a fight broke out at the party after Araujo's biological sex was discovered.

Nicole Brown, who was also at the party, told the Times that Araujo's sex was called into question by the suspects. When Araujo didn't answer whether she was a man or a woman, Brown said she encouraged the others to find out. She said Magidson then went with Araujo into the bathroom. Others at the party then told Brown they had had sex with Araujo, she said. After about 30 minutes, Brown said she went inside to see what was going on. She said Araujo was sitting on the sink and that she opened Araujo's legs and left the bathroom, screaming: "It's a man! Oh, my God!" Brown told the Times she saw Magidson wrestle Araujo to the ground and that she left shortly thereafter.

Police are still trying to piece together what happened next. Last Wednesday, two weeks after the party, police said Nabors confessed and led them to the body, buried about 150 miles east of Newark in a remote area of the Sierra foothills.

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