PHILADELPHIA — Homicide detectives are investigating the killing of a well known member of Philadelphia‘s LGBT community, Kyra Kruz, a 27-year-old transgender woman who was found dead in a wooded area of the city’s Frankford area. She had suffered a gunshot wound to the head.
According to a police spokesperson, Kruz was last seen at a WaWa convenience store about half a mile from where patrol officers found her body about 5 a.m. on Sept. 3.
The spokesperson said that detectives are asking that anyone with information about the crime to come forward.
Gloria Casarez, director of Philadelphia’s Office of LGBT Affairs, said that Kruz, was well known in the city’s LGBT community.
“She was a visible, friendly presence. This has been surprising and upsetting to all of us,” said Casarez.
A childhood friend, Amanda Cerini told The Philadelphia Inquirer that Kruz was primarily raised by a single mother, and moved to Philadelphia after high school. Though she went by Kruz for years, she recently had her last name legally changed to Cordova.
Kruz worked for about a year at the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative, a nonprofit group that focuses on HIV/AIDS outreach. Elicia Gonzales, the executive director, said Kruz turned up one day in 2010, wanting to know what she could do to help. She was initially stationed at the front desk, but later got a job counseling clients.
“She just immediately made the office light up,” Gonzales said. “She didn’t think of it as her job. It was her life’s calling to give back to the community.”
Kruz was active in the community, having worked in HIV/AIDS outreach at the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Initiative, and participated in Pride events, for which she designed costumes and choreographed dances.
Kruz was private about her personal life, but friends said she always had a positive attitude. But several said that Kruz had struggled in the past with drug use, and that at times her demons threatened to catch up with her.
“She always tried to find stability. She was always looking for a better job,” said Jaci Adams, a community activist and advocate for gay rights. “Kyra hit some bumps and bruises in life, but she never lost hope.”