Police in Livingston County, Mich., are still investigating the murder of 19-year-old transgendered woman Anthony "Nikki" Nicholas, whose body was found last Friday, but family members and friends say they fear the Detroit native, who had lived her life as a woman for two years, was the victim of a hate crime. "We think [she] was killed because [she] was gay," Nicholas's stepfather, Willie Parker, told the Detroit Free Press. Police say Nicholas, who made a living as an entertainer in Detroit bars, was killed by a gunshot to the head. Her body was found in an abandoned farmhouse in Green Oak Township, Mich. Family members say the last time they had heard from her was January 8.
Jeffrey Montgomery, executive director of the Detroit-based Triangle Foundation, said it is too early to determine the motive for Nicholas's murder but added that it does appear to be hate-related. "This is speculation, but in this case, based on the severity and the brutality that was used on the victim and the fact that this was a male in women's clothes and one who apparently lived very openly in that way, [that] would lead us to be treating this as a bias-related killing," he told the Free Press.