Transgender woman Nina Pop was stabbed to death in Sikeston, Mo., over the weekend, making her at least the 10th trans person to die by violence in the U.S. this year.
Pop's body was found Sunday night in her apartment in the town of about 16,000, 145 miles south of St. Louis, the Associated Press reports. No arrest has been made.
Sikeston police have not determined a motive but are considering the possibility that her death was a hate crime, Police Chief James McMillen said Tuesday. The Southeast Missouri Major Case Squad and the Missouri State Highway Patrol are assisting in the investigation.
Pop, 28, worked at a fast-food restaurant in Sikeston and was well-known in the area, according to KFVS, a TV station in nearby Cape Girardeau. "She was always happy," her friend Emory McCauley told the station.
The Human Rights Campaign called for action to address violence against trans Americans. "For the past four weeks, we have seen the deaths of five transgender women of color in this country. We are seeing an epidemic of violence that can no longer be ignored. Transgender and gender-nonconforming people, especially trans women of color, risk our lives by living as our true selves -- and we are being violently killed for doing so," Tori Cooper, director of community engagement for HRC's Transgender Justice Initiative, said in a blog post.
"We must be outraged by this news and we must channel that outrage into action immediately. These crimes must be reported, investigated and prosecuted. These lives must be mourned, honored and fought for. What we are doing is not enough. HRC mourns alongside all those who know and loved Nina, and we will continue our tireless fight to ensure a future where living one's truth can never become a death sentence."
The National Center for Transgender Equality also issued a statement. "Transgender people -- and particularly transgender women of color -- are facing a wave of violence," said Executive Director Mara Keisling. "Police and other government officials must do more to keep transgender people safe, to thoroughly investigate crimes against out community and to stop enacting laws that enable transgender people to be targeted."
Sikeston police ask that anyone with information related to the crime call the city's Department of Public Safety at (573) 471-4711 or Crime Stoppers Hotline at (573) 471-1500.