Investigation continues into Marcal Tye’s murder

St. Francis County Sheriff’s Department investigators in Forrest City, Ark., have some leads in the March 8 murder of transwoman Marcal Tye, but have made no arrests yet and are waiting on the Arkansas State Crime Lab to complete forensic testing to move forward, according to reports in The Republic newspaper in Columbus, Ind. The Republic based its report on reports in the Forrest City Times-Herald, which requires a subscription to read its content online.

Marcal Tye

Preliminary autopsy reports indicate Tye was killed by a single gunshot wound to the head and from blunt force trauma caused by being run over. Her body was dragged several hundred feet by a car after she was shot. Investigators found two .38-caliber shell casings at the scene.

Tye, who was well known as a trans woman in Forrest City, was found dead by passersby on a country road just outside the Forrest Hill city limits in the early morning hours of March 8. The case received national attention when early news reports called Tye “a man in a dress” and quoted St. Francis County Sheriff Bobby May as calling her a crossdresser.

The FBI is investigating the case as a possible civil rights violation but has made no determination on whether her death was a hate crime. Sheriff May has said it was “an ordinary murder” and not a hate crime.

The case has also raised new concerns for the transgender community in Memphis, about 45 miles away on Interstate 45, where a number of trans women have been killed or injured in attacks over the last five to six years.

—  admin

FBI now involved in Tye murder investigation

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.

Marcal Camero Tye

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.

—  admin

‘Chiefs don’t cry, but the allergens were very high’

Dave Guy-Gainer, second from left, of Forrest Hill celebrates with Army Major Margaret Witt, Servicemembers Legal Defense Network Executive Director Aubrey Sarvis and Air Force Lt. Col. Victor Fehrenbach after this morning’s DADT repeal signing ceremony. (Meghan Stabler)

We just got a call from Dave Guy-Gainer, aka “Chief,” who’s really become the face of the push to repeal “don’t ask, don’t tell” in North Texas over the last few years.

Guy-Gainer, a gay retired Air Force chief master sergeant who serves on the board of Servicemembers Legal Defense Network, was one of about 500 people who attended this morning’s signing ceremony for the bill to repeal DADT.

Guy-Gainer said he would have driven to D.C. for the ceremony if he had to, and he was the 12th person in line this morning outside the Department of the Interior.

“Chiefs don’t cry, but the allergens were very high in that room,” Guy-Gainer said. “You couldn’t help but shed a tear in there. It was just such an overwhelming feeling of weight being lifted and equality finally happening.”

Guy-Gainer said it was great to see “40 years of gay activists” assembled together, many of whom he’s met over the last decade at functions around the country — alongside lawmakers who’ve worked so hard to end the policy.

“For the first time in a long time I really said the Pledge of Allegiance with feeling,” Guy-Gainer said. “I gave a thumbs up to Sen. Lieberman and he gave me a victory sign back. … Looking at the kids around me. Dan Choi and I were talking for a while. …

“Another one was the standing ovation that [Rep.] Patrick Murphy got,” Guy-Gainer said, recounting some of his memorable moments from the ceremony. “I think he got more applause than the president. He was the real hero in this. …  He fell on his political sword for us.”

A year ago when we interviewed Gainer, he said if repeal didn’t happen in 2010, he’d “implode.” So what will he do now that it has finally happened?

“We still have transition to do. We still have to get the certification. We’ll still probably have some legal battles in the courts,” Guy-Gainer said. “There’s still more work to be done.”

—  John Wright