Authorities are investigating the death of a Black trans woman in Florida as a homicide after her body was discovered in an abandoned car burned beyond recognition.
While authorities are investigating the case as a murder, Hendry County Sheriff Steve Whidden said that there is currently no evidence that the brutal killing was a hate crime.
“We don’t have anything that would show that it’s a hate crime right now,” he said. “We possibly have a motive, but I can’t say what that is at this time.”
The sheriff said that authorities were currently looking into social media posts that Slater received prior to her death. Whidden said that while the posts didn’t contain direct threats, they wished harm on the young woman.
“There were some Facebook posts made — that this person needs to die,” Sheriff Whidden said, though he declined to say whether it was one person or a group of persons behind the messages.
Slater is the 18th known transgender person to be killed in a violent act this year in the United States, according to civil rights organization the Human Rights Campaign, which champions for the LGBTQ+ community.
Of the 18 known victims, 17, including Slater, were Black trans women.
“She was a people person,” Vereen said. “She loved to be around people and meeting new people too because of her new lifestyle that she transitioned into.”
“I feel like she was targeted because of her lifestyle,” Vereen added.
Another friend, Dezmond Bass, told the Times that Slater lived in a small town, which could have made her a target.
“She lived in a small town where everyone knew everyone, and it made it easier for her to be targeted. You should be able to be who you want to be without being discriminated against, and we are doing all that we can to make sure she gets justice,” Bass said.