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FBI Offers Reward to Find Killer of North Carolina Trans Woman

Jenna Franks

The FBI, the Jacksonville, N.C., Police Department, and Crime Stoppers are willing to pay for information to bring Jenna Franks's killer to justice.

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A $15,000 reward is being offered for information that may help find the killer of North Carolina transgender woman Jenna Franks.

The FBI is offering $10,000, and the Jacksonville, N.C., Police Department and Crime Stoppers are offering $2,500 each, The Daily News of Jacksonville reports.

Franks, 34, who was homeless, was found dead near a bike trail in Jacksonville February 24. Her death is being investigated as a homicide and a hate crime. North Carolina hate-crimes law does not cover crimes motivated by the victim's gender identity, but federal law does.

"Jenna was a beloved member of the LGBTQ+ community, and her absence has been felt by her friends and family members," Robert Wells, FBI special agent in charge, told TV station WITN. "We do not believe this was a random act. There is a strong possibility the person who did this continues to work and/or live in the community. We believe someone has information to help us get justice for Jenna and her family."

"Everyone I have spoken with, especially at her memorial service, said that she was a delight to be with," added Samuel Johnson, director for communications at the Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center. "She was an amazing person inside and out. I still cannot fathom that this happened. Being here my whole life, I never thought anything like this could happen, so it's kind of just taken us all aback for just a little bit, but we're still here we're still pushing forward."

Franks is one of at least 26 trans, nonbinary, or gender-nonconforming people who have died by violence in the U.S. in 2021. The year is on track to surpass 2020's figure of 44 such deaths, the most since activists and media have been keeping track. There are likely many more in any given year, as some victims are deadnamed and misgendered by police and media -- as Franks was initially -- or their deaths not reported at all.

Anyone with tips is asked to contact Jacksonville Det. Scott Eichelberger at (910) 938-6440 or seichelberger@jacksonvillenc.gov; Crime Stoppers at (910) 938-3273 or via Text-A-Tip by typing TIP4CSJAX and your message to 274637; or the FBI in Charlotte, N.C., at (704) 672-6100. Those who contact Crime Stoppers may do so anonymously.

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Trudy Ring

Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.
Trudy Ring is The Advocate’s senior politics editor and copy chief. She has been a reporter and editor for daily newspapers and LGBTQ+ weeklies/monthlies, trade magazines, and reference books. She is a political junkie who thinks even the wonkiest details are fascinating, and she always loves to see political candidates who are groundbreaking in some way. She enjoys writing about other topics as well, including religion (she’s interested in what people believe and why), literature, theater, and film. Trudy is a proud “old movie weirdo” and loves the Hollywood films of the 1930s and ’40s above all others. Other interests include classic rock music (Bruce Springsteen rules!) and history. Oh, and she was a Jeopardy! contestant back in 1998 and won two games. Not up there with Amy Schneider, but Trudy still takes pride in this achievement.