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Body pulled from Lake Michigan identified as missing Evanston activist Elise Malary

Coworkers remember Evanston Activist whose body was found in Lake Michigan 02:14

EVANSTON, Ill. (CBS) – Evanston police confirmed Saturday the body pulled from Lake Michigan on Thursday has been identified as missing 31-year-old activist Elise Malary.

Around 4:30 p.m. Evanston Police and Fire Departments responded to Garden Park in the 500 block of Sheridan Square for a report of a woman found by the rocks.  

Malary has been missing since March 9 after she sent a text to her sister Fabiana around 9 a.m. – her last known contact. She was later reported missing on March 11.

"She's never done anything like this before," said Fabiana. "So that's why it's been just so alarming for us."

She said when maintenance workers went to Elise's apartment, they found the front and back doors unlocked, but there were no signs of anything missing. 

Elise's blue 2008 Honda Accord was missing but was found late Tuesday two blocks from her residence. Police were checking nearby cameras to see who drove Elise Malary's car to the parking lot. Her family received word that her vehicle was left there.

Elise Malary is described as an "advocate" who has dedicated her life to "lifting up" the local LGBTQ+ community as a Black trans woman.

Delia Kropp first met Elise at a rally in Andersonville. 

"There's not going to be any replacing her, no," Kropp said. "Really willing to do the work, not just talk about it. Elise knew what it was like to be transgender and all of the personal things that she may have been going through or situations that she may have encountered in everyday life are part of being transgender."

Brian Johnson worked with Elise for two years fighting for social justice with Equality Illinois. Elise also worked with the Chicago Therapy Collective and the AIDS Foundation of Chicago. 

"Everything that she did whether it was standing up for justice or working with others or being a member of our team was mostly about how she could make sure that the people she cared about, that she was in community with, were doing well," Johnson said. 

CTC founder Iggy Ladden describes her not just as a powerful activist, but a friend. 

"Elise Malary was an incredible person. She was a proud Black Transgender Haitian Woman and a tenacious activist. Elise was both gentle and fierce and people were drawn to her energy, contagious smile, and kindness. Elise was never without a thoughtful comment or gesture - this made her incredibly special as a friend and powerful as an activist - she put people at ease. The loss of Elise is a tremendous loss to Chicago's transgender and LGBTQ+ communities. Elise was also my dear friend, family, and co-conspirator; I am beyond devastated. Now more than ever we must continue uplifting, protecting, and celebrating Black Trans Women.  Elise shone bright light into the world: I hope that we all take in that light and shine it forward. "  

The Evanston Police Department is investigating.

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