The body of a black transgender woman was recovered from a torched car in Clewiston, Florida, last week. According to the Human Rights Campaign, Bee Love Slater is the 18th transgender woman to be killed in 2019.
Hendry County investigators identified 23-year-old Slater several days after recovering her body from her burned vehicle, CBS Fort Myers affiliate WINK reports. Captain Susan Harelle said the body was burned beyond recognition.
The investigation is ongoing and the Sheriff's Office said it could not be confirmed as a hate crime until a clear motive is found. But Love's best friend, Kenard Wade, said Slater was targeted as a member of the LGBTQ community.
''She had a really, really good heart," Wade told WINK. "She would never harm anyone, never put anyone in harm's way. How could someone go to that extreme to get rid of her?"
According to Wade, Slater had received threats the night of the fire. She told him over text that she wanted to leave town to avoid trouble.
"Bee love was kind to everyone she came in contact with and her presence touched me for just the four months that I shared with her was amazing!" Dezmond Bass, who helped coordinate Slater's candlelight vigil, wrote on Facebook.
Slater's death highlights an HRC said. Last year, at least 26 transgender people were killed; in 2017, that number reached a record high of at least 29 deaths.against transgender people. Slater is the 18th known transgender woman to be murdered this year, the
Florida's hate crime laws do not specifically support transgender individuals and there are no protections at the federal level. The Trump administration continues to roll back key safeguards for the .
"Our society needs to work to ensure transpeople can live without fear," the ACLU of Florida said Thursday.
The week of Slater's death, 17-year-old Bailey Reeves, a transgender woman from Baltimore, was shot and killed on Labor Day. It was the fifth shooting of the night, police said.
In June, the American Medical Association called fatal attacks against transgender people of color an "epidemic." It proposed a plan to combat the violence, including educating people on the shocking statistics of these hate crimes, advocating for stronger law enforcement policies and increasing access to mental health treatment for LGBTQ individuals.
"According to available tracking, fatal anti-transgender violence in the U.S. is on the rise and most victims were black transgender women," said AMA Board Member S. Bobby Mukkamala, M.D. "The number of victims could be even higher due to underreporting and better data collection by law enforcement is needed to create strategies that will prevent anti-transgender violence."