A transgender woman was found shot to death in Toledo, Ohio, last week, making her the third reported transgender murder victim of 2017.
Jojo Striker, 23, was found dead in a garage February 8, local media report. She had suffered a single gunshot wound to her torso.
A week later, police have yet to determine a motive or identify a suspect, Lt. Joe Heffernan told Toledo newspaper The Blade. “My hope is we will get some evidence that will take us in the direction of a suspect, and from there will hopefully be able to determine why he did this to the victim,” he said this week.
The victim’s mother, Shanda Striker, said she believes the murder was a hate crime. “The police told us to leave it alone but that will never happen,” she told local TV station WTOL.
Shanda Striker referred to the deceased as her son and used her birth name. She said they had not spoken in a year, but she also said her offspring “was loved.”
“Everybody loved [Jojo],” she told The Blade. “Everybody did. I just wish it didn’t come to all of this while we were not speaking.”
Nick Komives, head of Equality Toledo, called for a thorough investigation. “We hope that throughout the continued investigation by the police, they don’t immediately rule out the possibility of a hate crime,” he told the newspaper.
All three transgender people reported murdered so far this year are women of color; the homicides of Mesha Caldwell and Jamie Lee Wounded Arrow were reported in January. There were 27 reported homicides of trans people, most of them women of color, in 2016, making it the deadliest year on record for transgender Americans. The total is likely much higher, given that some victims may have been misgendered by police or media, or some deaths not reported at all.