Four individuals, including the victim’s girlfriend, were charged with murder in southern Missouri on Wednesday after the burned body of a transgender teen was discovered by police.
The Daily Mail reports that the arrest of 25-year-old James Grigsby of Houston, Missouri, was the most recent in the murder of 17-year-old Ally Steinfeld, who was born Joseph Matthew Steinfeld Jr.
Steinfeld’s girlfriend, 24-year-old Briana Calderas, and two 18-year-olds, Andrew Vrba and Isis Schauer, were earlier charged with first-degree murder and other counts.
Steinfeld’s body was discovered in a horrific state. Her remains were found in the town of Cabool–near the mobile home belonging to Calderas–with some of her bones in a bag near a chicken coop. The victim’s eyes were gouged out and there were multiple stab wounds near her genitals.
Authorities have ruled out Steinfeld’s death as a hate crime, but questions remain as to why she was murdered so brutally.
Ally Steinfeld was missing for weeks but had been identified by police as male as posters her family put up looking for her identified her as a male. Steinfeld’s mother still referred to her transgender child as Joey, and said he was “loving and kind-hearted.”
Steinfeld had been engaged to a woman as recently as August until they broke up and she began dating Calderas.
Living with Steinfeld and Calderas in a mobile home they shared were the two 18-year-old accomplices in the murder.
Steinfeld had reportedly told her family she was happy with the group and elected to continue living with them in Houston, Missouri, rather than move with her parents to House Springs.
Both Sheriff James Sigman and prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr. insist the crime was not motivated by Steinfeld’s gender identity.
“I would say murder in the first-degree is all that matters,” Stevens said. “That is a hate crime in itself.”
Authorities say the three suspects burned Steinfeld’s body, placed some of its bones into a garbage bag, and placed the bag in the chicken coop. Calderas admitted helping burn the body and led authorities to a knife used in the killing, it is reported.
Chris Sgro, a spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, said Steinfeld was the 21st transgender person killed this year in the U.S.
“This violence, often motivated by hatred, must come to an end,” Sgro said. “We will continue to mourn Ally and fight back against transphobia and anti-trans violence.”
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