A man has been charged with three counts of murder in connection with the deaths of Muhlaysia Booker — a 23-year-old black transgender woman shot to death in Dallas just weeks after suffering a vicious anti-LGBTQ attack — as well as of two cisgender women.
Dallas police announced that a tip helped them track down and arrest 34-year-old Kendrell Lavar Lyles for his alleged role in one of the three murders. Cops said the two cisgender women were murdered on May 22 and 23, which came less than a week after Booker was killed on May 18.
Lyles was first arrested on June 5 for one of the alleged murders. Authorities investigating those cases realized that there were links between the suspected killer and Booker.
“During the course of investigating these two cases, detectives recognized that arrestee Lyles drove the same type car that is believed to have picked up Muhlaysia Booker on May 18, 2019,” the Dallas Police Department said in a written statement.
Police further stated that cell phone data indicated that Lyles frequented the area where Booker was picked up on the day she was found dead and again at the scene of the murder.
“Muhlaysia Booker was last seen getting into a light colored Lincoln LS, which is the same type of car driven by suspect Lyles,” the department added.
However, police remained mum about further details surrounding the circumstances of Booker’s death. It is not clear what led to the shooting or what connection Booker had to the alleged killer.
The news of Booker’s tragic death was especially heartbreaking for her loved ones and the LGBTQ community in Dallas in light of the media attention that surrounded an earlier incident in which she was attacked by a group of men who hurled anti-LGBTQ slurs at her and physically beat her to the ground over a minor car accident.
It is not immediately clear whether Lyle played a role in the murder of 26-year-old Chynal Lindsey, another black trans woman who was found dead in a Dallas lake on June 1. Police said they are continuing to investigate that case.
The community has been on edge recently due to a surge in fatal violence against trans women of color in the city. There are other open investigations in progress: Brittany White, 29, was found dead in a vehicle southeast of the city center in October of last year in a case that authorities have ruled a homicide, while investigators are still trying to solve the murders of two other trans women, 26-year-old Carla Patricia Flores-Pavón in May 2018 and 26-year-old Shade Schuler in 2015. In 2017, the remains of Armani Dante Morgan, a 27-year-old trans woman, were found in a Dallas field in what police called an “unexplained” death.