The burned remains discovered behind a vehicle rental facility in Fort Myers, Florida last month have been identified as a transgender woman who went by the name Yazmin Shancez.
A worker found the 31-year-old’s body shortly before 8 a.m. on Thursday, June 19. Police officials have declared the death a homicide and witnesses told NBC-2.com that the body was badly burned.
“One quick glance–there was obviously a charred body. You couldn’t recognize if it was a man or a woman, and it was still smoldering,” said Hank Morroni, who saw the body when he was returning a rental truck.
According to Jerry Hinkle, one of the first witnesses to find the victim, Shancez had been shot. “You get a little sick feeling–yea it ain’t good,” stated Hinkle.
Another witness shared that the only thing left on the victim’s body were some remaining bits of her shoes.
“You never think it would happen to your family, that’s what gets us the most,” said Jasmine Weaver, a cousin.
“For you to take somebody’s life, how can you live the next day, how can you wake up and think your day is perfectly fine?” she added, according to FOX News 4.
Although no arrests have yet been made, authorities are hopeful that surveillance cameras from several of the surrounding warehouses hold clues that will point them in the right direction.
Shancez’s family also has questions regarding the tragic death of their loved one, who they still referred to by her birth name, Eddie James Owens.
“Countless memories that I’ll never forget. It’s just a shame. He’s somebody’s loved one [and] just like the person who did this, I’m sure they have kids…he was somebody’s child,” said step mom Shannon Adams.
According to FOX 4 News, the family has seen an outpouring of support from the LGBTQA community, who have organized a candlelight vigil to raise awareness on this senseless and horrific act.
“We have lots of programs available we just need for people to know more about these programs so we can prevent some tragedies that happen,” said Rachel Spiller with Pride SWFL.
Fort Myers Police Department is asking anyone with information to call 239-321-7700 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-780-TIPS or text message C-R-I-M-E-S (274637) Keyword FMPD.