The FBI is now involved in investigating the murder of Marcal Camero Tye, a 25-year-old trans woman found dead near a rural highway outside Forrest Hill, Ark., early Tuesday, March 8, according to reports posted today on AOL News.
Special Agent Steve Frazier with the FBI Office in Little Rock told AOL News that the FBI is trying to determine if Tye’s civil rights were violated and would be working to determine if the murder was a hate crime.
Frazier said, “”Part of the civil rights statutes does include hate crimes, and we will be looking at that as a possibility, but right now it is open as a federal civil rights investigation.”
Investigators have said that Tye was shot in the head and her body then dragged down the road either behind or underneath a vehicle. Evidence that the body had been dragged caused activists with the Little Rock LGBT rights group Center for Artistic Revolution to believe the murder was an anti-trans hate crime.
However, Bobby May, sheriff of St. Francis County where Tye was killed, said the dragging appears not to have been intentional.
“Apparently after shooting the individual — we feel like the victim was shot in front of the vehicle — the suspect, whoever it may be, thought they might straddle the body, and in the process of taking off, the body got hung up under the vehicle,” May said. He also said there was evidence the driver had stopped and backed up in an attempt to disloge Tye’s body.
However, Frazier said, if the murder is determined to have been a hate crime, the fact that Arkansas has no state hate crimes law will not be a deterrent.
“Federal law is totally independent of any state law. The state has jurisdiction for homicide investigations, which are a state offense, but we have jurisdiction henever a killing may involve a person’s civil rights. We have federal jurisdiction totally unrelated to the state charge,” Frazier said.
May said investigators do not yet have a suspect in the case. However they did make plaster casts of tire tracks at the site and have found two .32-caliber shell casings at the scene. Tye was shot by a 32.caliber weapon.
Forrest City is located in the northeast portion of Arkansas, about halfway between Little Rock and Memphis, Tenn., on Interstate 40. Memphis Flyer, an alternative newspaper in Memphis, reported Wednesday that Tye’s death is the latest in a series of murders of transgender women in the Memphis area in recent years. Other victims include Duanna Johnson, a trans woman who was shot to death in Memphis in November 2008, just months after she accused two Memphis Police officers of making derogatory remarks about her sexuality and then beating her after arresting her on a prostitution charge in June that same year. The beating was captured on videotape.
Other trans women who have been murdered are Tiffany Berry and Ebony Whitaker.