Galveston investigators plan to charge victim’s father with murder, haven’t ruled out his anger about her sexual orientation as a cause
GALVESTON — Detectives believe they’ve determined who killed a Houston lesbian couple earlier this month, but they’re still searching for the evidence to solidify their theories about what led up to the murders.
Britney Cosby and her girlfriend Crystal Jackson, both 24, were found killed near a convenience store trash bin off State Highway 87 in Port Bolivar early March 7 when a beer salesman noticed their bodies.
The couple had been together for two years. Autopsy reports revealed Cosby died as a result of blunt force trauma, and Jackson was shot.
James Larry Cosby, 46, was arrested and charged with two counts of tampering with evidence on March 13 after finding evidence in his Houston home, where he lived with his daughter, her girlfriend and his grandmother. Investigators expect to upgrade the charges to capital murder in a month after forensic tests on evidence are completed and they locate the couple’s missing car and a possible accomplice, Captain Barry Cook said.
Cook said Galveston County Sherriff’s Office investigators went to talk to Cosby last week to interview him about his daughter and Jackson.
During the visit, a caretaker for the grandmother told investigators she’d noticed the carport, which was normally dirty and cluttered, had recently been cleaned when asked about the home’s conditions. Cook said investigators then found blood on a door jam and requested a search warrant.
A search of the home revealed blood all over Cosby’s living area, which is a converted garage. Cook said Cosby’s fingerprint was found on a piece of evidence as well.
Cook said he’d had a “violent episode” and argued with his daughter and Jackson on March 6, the day before the couple’s bodies were found. That evening the couple’s silver 2006 Kia Sorrento was seen leaving the home and boarding a ferry in Galveston.
The vehicle never boarded the ferry again. Cook said authorities believe Cosby killed the women and used the car to transport their bodies to Port Bolivar. The couple had been in Galveston days before for Mardi Gras, so Cook said that’s possibly why the bodies were moved so far.
The couple’s Kia Sorrento with paper tags is still missing, as is the gun that killed Jackson, Cook said. Authorities also think Cosby had help moving the bodies because video surveillance shows a man of a different height and build than Cosby. The person of interest sought by investigators is described as a black male with an average build, standing between 5 feet, 11 inches and 7 feet tall. He’s in his late 20s or early 30s.
The only other person in the home at the time of the argument was the grandmother, who is partially deaf and didn’t hear anything, Cook said. And Cosby isn’t talking to investigators about the fight.
“At this point we don’t know exactly what the argument was about or what led to this, but it became violent very quickly,” Cook said. “Mr. Cosby hadn’t really been in Britney’s life, so I would suspect that their relationship was someone strained. What happened that morning only they know, and none of them are telling.”
“He said it to me a few times that he did not like the idea of her being gay,” McDonald told Houston’s KHOU 11.
Houston civil rights activist Quanell X told Houston’s Fox 26 that Cosby was practicing Islam, where homosexuality is forbidden. He said he found writings about homosexuality on Cosby’s Quran “indicating he may have had an issue with his daughter’s sexual orientation.”
Cook said investigators aren’t ruling out a hate crime as a possible motive. But he said other things, like jealousy over the couple sharing a room while he was living in a converted garage could also have played a part.
“It is a possibility, and we have not ruled that out, but there are other items of contention that could also have been the cause for his anger, too,” he said. “God only knows what it was. It may have been something was said that morning that set him off, and the rest is history. … No motive is being ruled out.”
McDonald also said Cosby was a violent person. He went to live with his grandmother and daughter when he was released from prison in October. Cosby was serving time for a failure to comply as a sex offender. Cook said there are no reported calls to Houston police about domestic disputes or violence.
Cosby and Jackson’s deaths are the second fatal attack against lesbian couples in as many years in the state. Mollie Olgin and Kristene Chapa were shot in a park in Portland outside Corpus Christi in June 2012. Chapa was still alive when their bodies were discovered, but Olgin died.
The recent killings also highlight a national statistic of how LGBT people of color are more often the victims of violent crimes. In a 2012 report by the National Coalition of Anti-Violence Programs, which tracks homicides in the LGBT community, LGBT people of color represented 73 percent of homicide victims. More than half of the homicide victims were black and African-American LGBT people, but that category represented only 15 percent of survivors and victims of hate crimes overall.
Chai Jindasurat, co-director of community organizing and public advocacy at the New York City Anti-Violence Project, said through the organization’s work with programs across the country that people who live in “multiple marginalized identities experience violence at higher levels.”
“We do see from year to year that a majority of homicide victims who are LGBTQ are people of color,” he said.
Jindasurat said the work with targeted leadership and violence prevention programs within minority LGBT communities is helping lower the high homicide rates among queer people of color and prevent deaths like Cosby and Jackson’s.
“This case is very sad,” he said. “I think that unfortunately it just reminds all of us how much work there is to do in creating more safety and changing our culture to have LGBTQ people live in safety.”
A fund created by Dallas GetEQUAL TX activist Cd Kirven has raised $185 for Crime Stoppers as a reward for information in the case. A vigil for the couple in Dallas on Wednesday raised almost $700 by the 100 people in attendance.
Anyone with information about the case should call the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office tip line at 866-248-8477 or Galveston County Crime Stoppers 409-763-8477. To donate to the fund, visit TinyURL.com/GalvestonReward.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 21, 2014.