A transgender woman was found shot to death on a road in Mississippi this week, and her killing is being investigated as a homicide, meaning she is the first trans murder victim of 2017.
Mesha Caldwell's body was found Wednesday afternoon near Canton in Madison County, in the central part of the state, Jackson TV station WLBT reports. She had been shot several times. Police have not made statements about a motive, but friends believe she may have been killed for being transgender.
Caldwell, 41, was a hairstylist and makeup artist in Canton and was well-liked in the community. "I think people will miss her style, her personality," friend Keith Dupree told the station. "She won many hair battles, and she hosted competitions in Canton for the young people, so she will be missed greatly."
Evonne Kaho, a former roommate of Caldwell's, also spoke highly of her. "About three weeks ago I saw Mesha at the gay-lesbian bar," Kaho told WLBT. "She was always happy and she was always smiling and she always had something good to say to everyone."
The news of Caldwell's death comes almost concurrently with the confirmation that the victim of a December murder in Virginia was a trans woman, India Monroe. She was misgendered in initial reports, but the confirmation of her trans identity means she was the 27th trans homicide victim reported in 2016, the deadliest year on record for trans people.
A candlelight vigil for Caldwell is being held tonight in Jackson.
[RELATED: These Are the Trans People Killed in 2016]