Ray Champion Jr.

Carlton Ray Champion Jr.

Carlton Ray Champion Jr., 21, of Longview has been charged with murder in the Jan. 26 death of Tyler trans woman Ty Underwood, according to KLTV television station in Tyler.

Champion was already being held without bond in the Gregg County Jail, after being arrested by Tyler police on Jan. 29 on a probation violation charge. Tyler police informed the Gregg County Sheriff’s Office that Champion was also wanted on first degree murder charges, after which a warrant was signed and bond on the murder charge was set at $1 million.

KLTV TV station reports that Tyler police investigating Underwood’s shooting death that she and Champion had been in a brief relationship. Electronic and video evidence uncovered by investigators indicate that Champion was supposed to have met Underwood on the date and time when she was murdered.

Police responding to a call about an automobile accident on Jan. 26 found Underwood’s body in her vehicle, which had hit a telephone pole. She had been shot, and police believe that she got in her car to escape her attacker, and then crashed into the telephone pole.

Underwood was one of several trans women who have been murdered since the first of this year. Her death made national headlines, and a memorial vigil was held last Wednesday, Feb. 4, in her honor at Bergfeld Park in Tyler. Police said at that time they were following up on leads in the case and hoped to announce an arrest sometime this week.