Of­fi­cials: Trans­gen­der teen’s grisly death is not a hate crime

Ripon Bulletin - - Nation -

HOUS­TON, Mo. (AP) — Some of Ally Lee Ste­in­feld’s burned re­mains were found in a bag in a ru­ral south­ern Mis­souri chicken coop. Au­thor­i­ties say both of the trans­gen­der teen’s eyes had been gouged out and she had been stabbed in the gen­i­tals.

As ques­tions swirl about why the quiet 17-year-old was killed in such a ghastly man­ner, au­thor­i­ties aren’t say­ing what led to the killing. But they dis­miss the pos­si­bil­ity the death was a hate crime.

Au­thor­i­ties iden­ti­fied the re­mains as those of Joseph Matthew Ste­in­feld Jr. — Ally Lee Ste­in­feld’s birth name. They were found last week in the town of Ca­bool, near the mo­bile home of one of the al­leged killers, 24-year-old Bri­ana Calderas, with whom Ste­in­feld was liv­ing.

Calderas and two 18-year-olds, Andrew Vrba and Isis Schauer, are charged with first-de­gree murder and other counts. A fourth sus­pect is charged with aban­don­ment of a corpse and tam­per­ing with ev­i­dence.

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.”

Yet the killing has drawn the at­ten­tion of trans­gen­der ad­vo­cates and oth­ers across the U.S. who be­lieve Ste­in­feld was tar­geted for her gen­der iden­tity, de­spite what the Texas County sher­iff and pros­e­cu­tor say.

“This vi­o­lence, of­ten mo­ti­vated by ha­tred, must come to an end,” said Chris Sgro, spokesman for the Hu­man Rights Cam­paign, who said Ste­in­feld was the 21st trans­gen­der per­son killed this year in the U.S. “We will con­tinue to mourn Ally and fight back against trans­pho­bia and anti-trans vi­o­lence.”

Ste­in­feld had been miss­ing for weeks, and ini­tial news re­ports re­ferred to her as a male, in part be­cause miss­ing-per­son posters dis­trib­uted by the fam­ily used Ste­in­feld’s birth name, as did po­lice doc­u­ments.

Ste­in­feld’s mother, Am­ber Ste­in­feld, still refers to her child as Joey, but said the teen iden­ti­fied as fe­male to fam­ily and to friends on so­cial me­dia. She said her child was “lov­ing and kind-hearted.”

Ste­in­feld was en­gaged to a wo­man un­til they broke up in Au­gust, Am­ber Ste­in­feld said, and soon after be­gan dat­ing Calderas. She said Ste­in­feld and the two 18-year-old sus­pects were all liv­ing at Calderas’ mo­bile home. She said Ste­in­feld was up­beat be­fore she dis­ap­peared, telling rel­a­tives that she loved them and was happy.

Ste­in­feld grew up mostly in House Springs, Mis­souri, near St. Louis, Am­ber Ste­in­feld said. The fam­ily moved briefly to Florida, then to Texas County, an area of rugged hills in south­ern Mis­souri.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.