Bee Love Slater wasn't just murdered. The Florida native—a black, transgender woman—was burned so badly that authorities took days to identify her with dental records, CNN reports. The 23-year-old was found Sept. 4 "burned beyond recognition" in a car in the city of Clewiston, investigators say. Friends held a candlelight vigil for her Friday as rumors swirled around her death. "How can a murder of this magnitude in such a small town happen and nobody knows nothing?" a friend asked USA Today. "There's something wrong with that picture." Authorities identified Slater as Bolman Slater VI and wouldn't call her killing a hate crime without a known motive. But advocates note she's the 18th transgender American killed in 2019.
"I think she was targeted because of her lifestyle," Desmond Vereen, Slater's "gay mother," tells the Miami Herald. But Florida—which led the US in transgender killings with five or more last year—doesn't have a hate-crime statute that includes gender identity, so trans people remain unprotected. Meanwhile, some are asking why Slater, a Pahokee native, ended up 30 miles away in Clewiston. A friend says Slater wanted to move over social media threats, but someone "got her" first. Which leaves a lot unknown for the grief-stricken. "She always had a smile on her face. She always was caring," says Vereen. "She always gave hugs and kisses, always told you that she loved you." Slater's family declined to comment on her death, the Palm Beach Post reports. (Read more transgender stories.)