A transwoman named Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, who also reportedly went by Alexa, was killed in Toa Baja, Puerto Rico on Monday. The unknown assailants have yet to be arrested and police said they believe it was four teenagers that committed the crime. According to journalist David Begnaud, the killers also posted a video of the murder to social media.
It appears that speculation, fear, and ignorance could have lead to Ruiz’s murder. Begnaud reports that hours before she was killed, police received a call that a man dressed as a woman was inside a McDonald’s bathroom. They also told police they saw the person holding a mirror. When police arrived, they spoke to Ruiz and she informed them that she was in fact homeless. Neither person that reported Ruiz to the police wanted to press charges. The police, however, still wrote an incident report of the situation. Hours after that occurred, they received another call, this time that Ruiz was dead.
She told police her name was Neulisa Luciano Ruiz.
She told the police she was homeless. pic.twitter.com/GJF1PRANl6
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) February 24, 2020
Begnaud adds that in the hours leading up to Ruiz’s death, some people on social media posted homophobic and transphobic comments about her. Now, as police investigate the murder, they also wait for her family to claim her body. It has been at least two days since her death and police say that Ruiz’s body has yet to be claimed by her family.
Others have also come out to denounce this horrific murder including LGBTQ activist and Puerto Rican leaders.
“We must denounce the hate speech of the fundamentalist groups that have promoted a climate where they prosecute and persecute a trans person for the mere fact of using a bathroom,” Human Rights activist Pedro Julio Serrano said, according to the Independent. Serrano is also seeking for police to rule Ruiz’s murder a hate crime.
“Se llamaba Alexa. Fue asesinada. No, no fue asesinada, fue linchada en la madrugada del 24 de febrero. Su vida, si puede ser llamada así, fue arrebatada por la violencia transfóbica y machista que por décadas ha arropado a Puerto Rico.” @DonVictorRamos https://t.co/EB0Ns3Ymku
— Pedro Julio Serrano (@PedroJulio) February 24, 2020
San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulín Cruz, who’s also running for the governors’ seat, echoed his sentiment.
“You can feel the pain of Pedro Julio and of all those who understand that the lives of our TRANS people are worth the same as any other compatriot,” she said.
Serrano also called out media for misgendering Ruiz. Initial reports from certain outlets referred to her as “a man dressed in a black skirt.” The hashtag #SeLlamabaAlexa was created by Ruiz’s Twitter supporters to combat the misgendering of trans people in news reports.
A trans woman was murdered in Puerto Rico. It's appalling that local outlets are still referring to her as "a man dressed as a woman." Her name was Alexa, and she deserved better. Me dueles Puerto Rico! #SeLlamabaAlexa
— Alicia Ramírez (@aliciaramgar) February 24, 2020
In the meantime, police have yet to confirm if they have found the murders or not.
“We will not go into details about what we have at the moment. We will not confirm or deny if we have a person of interest. We are in the investigative process. Prosecutor Carmen Iris Ortiz is fully involved in the case with the Homicide staff. We want them to give us the space to have results. I am not going to go in if there is a detained person or not,” Assistant Superintendent of Criminal Investigations (SAIC), Colonel Rolando Trinidad said according to NotiUno.