Police in North Carolina have urged LGBTQ sex workers to be "hyper cautious" after two disturbingly similar murders in the space of 11 days. Police say the victims shot to death in Charlotte hotel rooms on April 4 and April 15 were both transgender women and sex workers, the Charlotte Observer reports. Police say the killer or killers may be targeting trans women. "Naturally the assumption would be these got to be connected right?" Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department spokesman Rob Tufano said Thursday, per WCNC. "We don’t know at this point, but they are consistent enough with circumstances and similarities and it’s gotten our attention."
The April 4 victim was identified as 29-year-old Jaida Peterson. Police say the second victim, a 28-year-old woman, was found at a different hotel Thursday. Tufano said that until arrests are made, "there has probably never been a more vulnerable time" for transgender sex workers in the area. At a vigil for Peterson last week, Black trans women described her as an honorary sister. "People just find it easier to kill us because socially, we’re at the bottom of the totem pole," Brianna Battle told the Charlotte Observer. "No matter what her gender was, a human life was taken away. She has a family and friends and people who love her." Advocates say many Black and Latino trans women end up as sex workers because discrimination leaves them with few other options. (Read more North Carolina stories.)