Police in North Carolina are seeking leads after two transgender women were murdered at hotels located in the same city in an 11-day span.
The victim, who has not yet been publicly identified, was reportedly fatally shot at a Sleep Inn in Charlotte. Days earlier, on Easter Sunday, Jaida Peterson, 29, was also fatally shot at the Quality Inn in Charlotte, according to WTVD.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said they have not determined whether the two slayings are connected–but due to the fact that both women were transgender sex workers, they fear both victims may have been targeted.
“Both of those victims, transgender women. Both of them sex workers. Both of them shot to death in hotels,” police spokesperson Rob Tufano told reporters. “Naturally, the assumption would be these shootings have got to be connected, right? We don’t know. We just flat out don’t know.”
Peterson’s mother told the Charlotte Observer that she spoke with her daughter hours before she was killed.
The Human Rights Campaign noted in a statement on their website that Peterson was misidentified and misgendered in news and police reports. The statement said that three-quarters of trans and gender-nonconforming individuals are misgendered by the media and law enforcement — potentially skewing data regarding violence targeting the marginalized group.
“North Carolina also does not have a law that expressly addresses hate or bias crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity,” the Human Rights Campaign statement noted.
Though a motive remains unclear, Tufano said members of the LGBTQ community, particularly sex workers, remain especially “vulnerable” until an arrest is made.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police are offering a $5,000 reward for information in Peterson’s case.
[Featured image: Jaida Peterson/Instagram]