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Mourners gather to honor trans activist whose body was found in Lake Michigan

Friends described Elise Malary, 31, as a soft-spoken person with a big heart.

Mourners gathered at a vigil in Chicago on Sunday to remember transgender advocate Elise Malary, who had been an active member of the LGBTQ community in nearby Evanston, Illinois. 

The vigil was held three days after Malary’s body was recovered from Lake Michigan on Thursday. She had first been reported missing by a family member March 11, according to the Evanston Police Department. 

Fliers for missing activist Elise Malary are distributed near the CTA Howard Red Line station on March 17, 2022, in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood.
Fliers for missing activist Elise Malary are distributed near the CTA Howard Red Line station Thursday in Chicago's Rogers Park neighborhood.Erin Hooley / Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Friends, neighbors and even strangers joined Sunday’s event to light candles for Malary, 31, who dedicated her life to advocating for the LGBTQ community, particularly Black transgender women, NBC Chicago reported.

Parker Haynes, who served on the board of the LGBTQ nonprofit group Chicago Therapy Collective with Malary, said her death has left a void that can’t be filled.

“I just learned a lot about how to live and fight, and Elise had a really beautiful way of wording things,” he said.

In a statement released over the weekend, Evanston police said they was continuing to investigate. They said Monday that foul play is not suspected.

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