Kendrell Lavar Lyles was named by Dallas police as a serial homicide suspect, including in the death of a transgender woman – Muhlaysia Booker – and two other people.
“We don’t know the motives at this point,” Major Max Geron said in a news conference.
Lyles, who is in his 30s, has been accused of three counts of murder; only one of those victims, Booker, was transgender, though. He is also a person of interest in the murder of a second transgender woman, police said. At least one of the other homicides occurred during a drug transaction, according to police.
The deaths of transgender women in Dallas have terrified the community.
According to the Washington Post, there were five deaths of transgender people in Dallas in the past four years. There have been at least eight transgender murder victims in the United States this year, The Post reports. The deaths raised fears of a serial killer targeting transgender women in Dallas.
Police said in a June 12 news conference that they think Lyles is responsible for the death of one of those transgender victims: Muhlaysia Booker. Police did not release the names of the other two victims they are connecting to Lyles.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. After Two Homicides, Lyles’ Car Led Police to Connect Him to Booker’s Death
Commander Geron said in the news conference that police responded to a shooting call on May 22, 2019 in the City of Dallas. A female victim was shot and later died. A citizen called in a tip telling police that Kendrell Lavar Lyles committed the murder.
Police determined that Lyles was allegedly responsible for that murder, and Lyles was arrested on June 5. Before that arrest, though, on May 23, 2019, Dallas police responded to another shooting also in Dallas. A witness alleged that she and Lyles drove to meet with a second victim to engage in a drug transaction. As the victim walked up to her car, he was shot by Lyles and later died, Geron said.
During the course of investigating those cases, detectives realized that Lyles drove the same kind of car that is believed to have picked up Muhlaysia Booker, a transgender woman who was murdered in Dallas. Cell phone analysis indicated that Lyles allegedly frequented the area and put him around the area at the time that Booker was picked up and later at the scene of her murder, said Geron. She was last seen getting into a light-colored vehicle similar to Lyles’ vehicle, Geron said.
2. Muhlaysia Booker Was Killed After She Was the Subject of a Viral Beating Attack
Before she was killed, Muhlaysia Booker had been the victim of a viral beating attack in Dallas, Texas in April 2019.
The viral video of the beating occurred after a minor traffic incident. USA Today reported that Booker, 23, was later shot to death.
The person who beat Booker is not the same person who murdered her. Edward Thomas was accused in the beating.
Muhlaysia Booker was identified by police as a transgender female. On Saturday, May 18, 2019, at approximately 6:44 a.m., Dallas police “responded to a shooting call in the 7200 block of Valley Glen Drive. Upon arrival, officers found …(the) Black female, lying face down in a public street. Dallas Fire-Rescue responded and pronounced the victim deceased from homicidal violence,” a police press release said.
Police asked that “anyone with information regarding this offense is encouraged to contact Homicide Detective David Grubbs at 214-671-3675 or via email at email@example.com. Please refer to Case Number 098748-2019.”
During the course of this investigation, “it was discovered that the homicide victim, Muhlaysia Booker, was also the victim of a brutal attack that occurred on April 12, 2019, at about 11:23 p.m.,” wrote police.
3. Lyles Is a Person of Interest in The Death of a Transgender Woman Found in a Lake
Although Lyles is only being accused of one transgender victim’s death at this time, he is a person of interest in another case, Geron said.
Chynal Lindsey, 26, was a transgender woman whose body was found in a Lake near Dallas on June 1. Dallas Police Chief U. Reneé Hall confirmed Lindsey’s death, saying that police found “obvious signs of homicidal violence” on her body. Lyles is a person of interest in that case, according to the police commander.
You can read more about Chynal Lindsey here.
According to Lindsey’s Facebook, she was a caretaker at Alpha Home Health Care. Previously, she studied computer-science at Prairie State College, and attended Rich East High School prior to that.
4. More Than 26 Transgender Women Died Violently Last Year But Police Say Lyles’ Motive Is Not Clear
According to the Human Rights Campaign, in 2018, more than 26 transgender people died violently in the United States, with the majority being black transgender women. However, in the Lyles case, police stopped short of determining a motive in the deaths.
“Some of these cases involve clear anti-transgender bias. In others, the victim’s transgender status may have put them at risk in other ways, such as forcing them into unemployment, poverty, homelessness and/or survival sex work,” the Human Rights Campaign site noted.
“While the details of these cases differ, it is clear that fatal violence disproportionately affects transgender women of color, and that the intersections of racism, sexism, homophobia, biphobia and transphobia conspire to deprive them of employment, housing, healthcare and other necessities, barriers that make them vulnerable.”
5. The Transgender Community Was Described as Being on ‘Edge’ Due to the Attacks
For obvious reasons, the series of attacks left Dallas’s transgender community “on edge,” according to the Texas Tribune.
Another victim according to the Tribune: Brittany White, 29, found shot to death in a car in southeast Dallas. There is no indication at this time of any link between Lyles and that case.
The Dallas Morning News reported previously that authorities believed Booker’s death was similar to the deaths of two other transgender women.