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Cleveland police official: Murders of transgender women were ‘crimes of hate’

Monday, December 16, 2013

CLEVELAND — A Cleveland police official says police believe the recent slayings of two transgender women were motivated by hate.

Betty Skinner

Betty Skinner

Brittany Stergis

Brittany Stergis

Deputy chief Ed Tomba, speaking at a forum Sunday called by advocates of Cleveland’s LGBT community, said federal authorities would have to decide whether to try the cases under hate crime law, but police are calling them “crimes of hate,” reported the Northeast Ohio Media Group.

“These are crimes of hate,” said Tomba. “We acknowledge that, make no mistake about it, but as far as the law goes … we will take these two crimes to the federal government, we will ask them to review them and see if they fall under the hate crime statue.”

Police are unable to formally classify the slayings as hate crimes because Ohio law does not include sexual orientation or gender identity in its hate crimes laws.

The body of Betty Skinner, a 52-year-old disabled, transgender woman, was discovered Dec. 5 by her caregiver at an assisted living facility. Another transgender woman, Brittany Stergis, was found the next morning shot in the head.

Police have no suspects and don’t believe the same person is responsible for the two slayings earlier this month.

Skinner and Stergis are the second and third transgender women killed in northeastern Ohio this year.

Cemia “CeCe” Dove, 20, was killed in January and her body was discovered in April in a retention pond, tied to a concrete block. She had been stabbed 40 times.

Her killer, Andrey Bridges, was sentenced to life in prison in November.

That homicide also was not classified as a hate crime, even though testimony in Bridges’ trial suggested he murdered Dove after becoming enraged upon discovering her male genitalia.

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23 more reader comments:

  1. Hate crimes,cant get around it

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 6:53pm
  2. SICK

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 6:55pm
  3. I am not certain how to feel about “hate crimes”. In my opinion, all murders must be out of hate. I don’t think any murder is less than another, because someone is dead. For ANY reason, murder is wrong, regardless of motivation. My brother was murdered and the guy got off Scott free. I hate that man. If I kill HIM, should my punishment be worse than if in just met him on the street and decided to kill him? I think that if you murder someone, regardless of your personal feelings toward someone, you deserve to die. Not be housed, fed, and clothed by the tax money I pay.

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 6:57pm
  4. If they start designating these as hate crimes it will help with other discrimination faced by GBLT people. It helps drive home the fact that this was caused by nothing but hatred and prejudgism. Hell NON gay NON trans people are murdered because people THINK they are such, so yes the police coming out calling it a hate crime is a step in the right direction... Also, not all murder is over hate, it can be over revenge, to get something someone else has, or even just for kicks. :C You heard me, some people kill just for kicks..

    Replied on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:49pm
  5. Now the questions is, what are they doing to solve and charge the assailants?

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 6:59pm
  6. Donald Peterson, you and I are on the same page, 100%. And I think rapists deserve the same.

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:00pm
  7. Wow

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:02pm
  8. Yah think!, This shouldn’t even NEED to be called anything other than murder!!! These women deserve respect, not excuses. And I agree with Donald, all murders are hate crimes! Catch the damn murderer all ready and stop making excuses.

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:06pm
  9. Its time to stop hate!

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:10pm
  10. If they weren’t trans* and simply were disabled or black would these have then been seen immediately as “hate crimes” regardless and no questioning of the law and federal investigation would be made?

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:10pm
  11. inexcusable

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:24pm
  12. I do NOT understand those who don’t understand what “HATE CRIME” means, so here ya’ go: it is a violent crime – including murder – which is ONLY motivated by HATE toward the victim for his or her gender, race, religion or philosophical standing. The “purp” has no other knowledge of the victim. Pretty simple if you cut to the heart of the idea. And it is usually added to a criminal charge. It is one of the reasons cops ALWAYS try to find out ‘motives’ for crimes.

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:27pm
  13. It is also a hate crime due to its effect on other members of the community. IOW, if the person was murdered simply because they were transgender, other members of the transgender community fear that they may be next. These crimes are a lot like terrorism in that they send a terrifying message to the rest of the community.

    Replied on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:34pm
  14. Point well taken.

    Replied on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:40pm
  15. That is so sad we still live in a age were have stupid people don’t make no sense.

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:40pm
  16. I hope they hang those pos people high. Bring justice for the victims and their families. Hate crimes are horrible

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:47pm
  17. I agree, the reasons need to be noted. But in general, kill and be killed should be the base line. I don’t think any minds can actually be changed so straight people can like us. Homosexuality challenges everything within them. They can’t be helped. I say we should start carrying guns.

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:52pm
  18. First off, this article isn't about the murder of homosexuals, it's about the murder of trans females (who over the last couple of years have been murdered as often as the rest of the LGBT combined). Secondly "some straight people" would have been better for you to say, as many straight people like and support homosexuals and bisexuals, just like many cissex/cisgender people like and support transsex/transgender people.

    Replied on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 8:13pm
  19. Some sick fucks out there, May the women RIP

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 7:56pm
  20. Im glad they see it as it is…hate.

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 8:01pm
  21. no shit, dick tracy…

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 8:09pm
  22. That is sick and cruel no should be treated that way no matter who they are and I hope they get the people who did and bring justice too these women and their families because this is so wrong and they deserve justice

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 8:13pm
  23. I agree Kristeffe May Gracewood, I didn’t mean to lump people in. Just typing only phone and tend to shorthand. Most of my friends are straight, and I know they don’t hate my community. Thank you for noting that.

    Posted on Monday, December 16, 2013 at 8:18pm