Florida transgender woman Bee Love Slater was found burned to death — beyond recognition — in a car last Wednesday.
Her death is the 18th murder of a trans person in the U.S. this year and the 17th in which the victim was an African-American trans woman. Friends say they believe she was targeted because of her identity.
Slater, of Pahokee, was found in the town of Clewiston, about 30 miles away. It took investigators from the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office until Friday to publicly identify her. Her identity was first reported by NewNowNext.
But a close friend of hers, Kenard Wade, said he was sure she was the victim as soon as he saw photos of her burned-out car.
“That’s her car,” he told Fort Myers TV station WINK. “I know that. I know her car.” He said she knew someone wanted to harm her, and she wanted to get away.
Another friend, Desmond Vereen, told TV station WBBH that he thinks Slater’s identity was a motive in the crime. “I feel like she was targeted because of her lifestyle,” he said. Vereen, who organized a vigil held Friday in Slater’s memory, described her as “a people person.”
“She loved to be around people and meeting new people too because of her new lifestyle that she transitioned into,” he said.
Despite the assertions of Slater’s friends, investigators with the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office say they have yet to determine a motive for the crime, but they did say it’s one of the most brutal murders they’ve ever seen.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office at (863) 674-5600 or Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers at (800) 780-8477.
Constant reports of violence against our community are difficult to read, especially as we continue to face historic rates. If you or someone you know is experiencing violence, you can reach out to the Anti-Violence Project’s free bilingual (English/Spanish) national hotline at (212) 714-1141 or report online for support.