(CLEWISTON, Fla.) — Despite calls from the LGBT community for more information in the wake of the discovery of a black transgender woman burned beyond recognition in Florida earlier this month, authorities say they are reluctant to release details about the investigation into her death.
Police had to use dental records to identify 23-year-old Bee Love Slater after her body was discovered inside of an abandoned car in Clewiston, Florida, on Sept. 4.
Even though it’s been nearly two weeks since authorities made the gruesome discovery, the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, which is leading the investigation, said it’s too early to say if her death can be classified as a hate crime.
“We’ve not been able nail down a possible hate-crime angle, as far as I know,” Capt. Susan Harrelle, a public information officer at the Hendry County Sheriff’s Office, told ABC News in an interview Monday.
She also said the sheriff’s office was aware of social media reports that speculated Slater had been shot and tied up in the car, but she said there was no evidence to confirm those reports.
Harrelle acknowledged members of South Florida’s LGBTQ community have shown frustration with the investigation, but said authorities looking into the case have been extremely reluctant to release information to the public out of privacy concerns.
“They’re not releasing a lot of information because it’s an active, ongoing investigation. I can only suspect that some of what they’re learning is really sensitive,” Harrelle said.
Investigators are examining a number of social media posts directed at Slater before her killing, including some that wished death on her, according to The New York Times.
Slater was found just days after 17-year-old Bailey Reeves, who is also transgender, was shot and killed in Baltimore. Police have released few details on that case, but said they do not believe she was the intended target.
At least 18 transgender people, including Slater, have been killed this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The group tracked 29 killings in 2018, the most it had ever recorded in a year.
Since 2013, HRC has tracked at least 145 transgender deaths due to fatal violence, with most victims being black transgender women. But the organization said the violence is hard to track due to misgendering — incorrectly applying gender labels — and transphobia.
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