Second transgender woman murdered in Washington suburb in three months

Zoe Spears was found about four blocks away from where Ashanti Carmon, also transgender, was murdered on March 30.
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By Tim Fitzsimons

Zoe Spears, a transgender woman, was shot and killed Thursday night in Fairmount Heights, a Maryland suburb of Washington, D.C., according to police.

Spears, 23, was found about four blocks away from where Ashanti Carmon, also transgender, was murdered on March 30. Carmon’s case is unsolved, according to authorities.

Prince George’s County Police Maj. Brian Reilly said in a press briefing Friday that the deadly shooting took place around the 600 block of Eastern Avenue, one of the diagonal boundary roads that form the border of Washington and Maryland.

“If anyone was in that area last night between the hours of about 10 at night to about midnight, we are asking the public’s help in letting us know if they saw anything suspicious to please reach out to us at 1-800-411-TIPS,” Reilly said.

Reilly said that the murder of Carmon in March took place just blocks away from where Spears was killed. “At this point in the investigation, there is no direct link that we see at this point, but that is obviously something we are monitoring very closely to see if there are any links,” Reilly said.

Carmon and Spears knew each other, he added, describing them both as a part of a “tight-knit” group of commercial sex workers along Eastern Avenue.

“It’s unusual that we had two murders like this within a couple blocks of each other,” Reilly said. “What we will say to the community out there: Look out for each other.” He declined to comment on reports that Spears may have witnessed Carmon’s murder.

Monica Roberts, the creator of TransGriot, a blog that tracks the killing of transgender people, wrote that spring and summer translate into greater risks for trans people.

“When the weather warms up, the anti-trans violence incidents rise along with the warmer temperatures,” Roberts wrote.

Record levels of violence against transgender women took place in 2017 and 2018, according to a Human Rights Campaign (HRC) publication on anti-transgender violence. The report found that anti-transgender violence victims are mostly young, mostly female-identified and mostly black. Of those killed, 82 percent of the victims were transgender women of color, and 64 percent were younger than 35, the report said.

Prior to Spears' killing, HRC tracked nine murders of transgender people so far in 2019. Spears' murder brings the total number of known murders of transgender women this year to 10.

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Tim Fitzsimons

Tim Fitzsimons reports on LGBTQ news for NBC Out.