As police investigate homicide, some say victim was misgendered in reports
One week after a north Toledo homicide, advocacy groups are making a push on social media to bring awareness to what they say is the murder and misgendering of a transgender woman.
For police, it seemed like any other homicide.
The body of a 23-year old victim was found in a vacant garage last Wednesday; the person was first listed as an unidentified black male by police and eventually identified as Demajio Striker.
But the case soon took a twist when it was reported that Striker identified as Jojo Striker -- a transgender woman.
The story has been gaining traction on social media ever since, with calls for media outlets to refer to the victim as she and her instead of he and him.
"It's disrespectful to the deceased, it's disrespectful to the trans community as a whole," says Jack Alferio, a transgender Toledo man. He says crimes against trans women, in particular transgender black women, make up the highest percentage of crimes against the LGBT community.
But is this particular crime one motivated by hate?
"I think there's always a possibility when the victim is a person of color, specifically a trans person of color," he tells NBC 24.
Toledo police say they are investigating all possibilities.
"I'm not sure how (Striker) identified, but that will certainly be something we're looking into to see if that had something to do with the motive or not," said Lt. Joe Heffernan.
He adds that TPD is also looking for clues within Striker's criminal past, which included soliciting charges and an active warrant for robbery.
Heffernan said he couldn't comment on details of the investigation and whether or not there is a direct correlation to recent charges and the murder.
Meanwhile, advocacy groups like Equality Toledo are hoping to continue bringing awareness to the issue of trans violence and the usage of proper pronouns when referring to transgender individuals.
Alferio, who serves on the Board of Directors at Equality Toledo, says several pro-LGBT media outlets have been picking the story up.
"Make a platform out of it to make sure it doesn't happen anywhere else," he says.
Police say there have been no new leads since the investigation was opened.
Anyone with information is asked to call Crime Stopper at (419) 255-1111.
Equality Toledo has also established a Go Fund Me page to help the Striker family with funeral expenses.