HOUSTON, Mo. — The murder of Ally Lee Steinfeld is not being considered a hate crime, a magazine reported on Wednesday.
Some of Ally Lee Steinfeld’s burned remains were found in a bag in a rural southern Missouri chicken coop. Authorities say both of the transgender teen’s eyes had been gouged out and she had been stabbed in the genitals.
As questions swirl about why the quiet 17-year-old was killed in such a ghastly manner, authorities aren’t saying what led to the killing. But they dismiss the possibility the death was a hate crime.
Authorities identified the remains as those of Joseph Matthew Steinfeld Jr. — Ally Lee Steinfeld’s birth name. They were found last week in the town of Cabool, near the mobile home of one of the alleged killers, 24-year-old Briana Calderas, with whom Steinfeld was living.
Calderas and two 18-year-olds, Andrew Vrba and Isis Schauer, are charged with first-degree murder and other counts. A fourth suspect is charged with abandonment of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
Both Sheriff James Sigman and prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr. insist the crime was not motivated by Steinfeld’s gender identity.
“I would say murder in the first-degree is all that matters,” Stevens said. “That is a hate crime in itself.”
Advocates, however, do say that Ally was targeted because of her gender identity.
“This violence, often motivated by hatred, must come to an end,” Chris Sgro, spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign, who said Steinfeld was the 21st transgender person killed this year in the U.S., told Time. “We will continue to mourn Ally and fight back against transphobia and anti-trans violence.”