Police have charged a man in connection with the serial deaths of three people in Dallas, Texas, and the suspect is being investigated in connection with a fourth murder. Two of the victims in the killings were transgender women.
Kendrell Lavar Lyles, 33, was arrested last week and charged with killing 23-year-old Muhlaysia Booker.
Police said in a press conference that Lyles was being investigated in connection with the unrelated shooting deaths of an unnamed woman on May 22 and an unnamed man on May 23.
“During the course of investigating these two cases, detectives recognized that arrestee Lyles drove the same type car that is believed to have picked up Muhlaysia Booker on May 18, 2019,” Maj. Max Geron of the Dallas Police Department said.
Police say they also analyzed Lyle’s phone records, which placed him at the scene.
Just a month before her death, Booker was the victim of an assault in an unrelated incident. She was brutally beaten by multiple people and said her attackers used homophobic slurs.
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After the attack, Booker spoke out about the violence that trans women of colour receive.
“This time, it was me. Next time, it could be someone else close to you,” she said in April.
Police later arrested 29-year-old Edward Thomas, who was allegedly offered $200 to beat her up.
Booker is one of three trans women who have been killed in the past year in Dallas, prompting worries about a serial killer targeting the community.
Chynal Lindsey’s body was pulled from White Rock Lake on June 1 with “obvious signs of homicidal violence,” according to Dallas police Chief Renee Hall.
On Wednesday, police said Lyles was a person of interest in her death.
Months earlier, in October 2018, a third trans woman was shot to death in her car outside her house.
Police are also investigating the cold case of a trans woman who was killed in 2015.
Officials couldn’t say whether or not Lyles was involved in those two cases.
“We continue to investigate them and will look to see if there are ties to Lyles to those other cases,” Geron said.
The murders have been cited by U.S.-based LGBTQ2 campaigners as proof that trans people, particularly black trans women, are at huge risk of violence.
At least 26 transgender women were reported killed in the United States in 2018 and 29 in 2017, according to Human Rights Campaign, the largest U.S. LGBTQ2 advocacy group.
Hall has previously said the police were working with Abounding Prosperity Inc., a Dallas LGBTQ2 group, to ensure that members of the community “can feel safe.”
—With files from Reuters
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