Mesha Caldwell: Body found on Mississippi roadside is first trans slaying of 2017
Mesha Caldwell was a stylist and beautician in Mississippi who "loved everyone and never met a stranger," one of her friends said. Her family and friends are wondering who would take the life of the woman who was well liked by everyone who knew her.
Her body was found on a roadside in Madison County, Mississippi on Wednesday afternoon, according to local media outlets. Police are investigating the murder, which unfortunately, holds a dubious distinction: Hers is the first transgender slaying of 2017.
"She always, always dressed like a girl," childhood friend Mary Young told Mic.com. "And as she grew up, she became beautiful just like a lady."
"I really don't know why somebody would want to kill her," Young said.
It is a question being echoed by all who knew Caldwell.
In the first 11 months of 2016, there were 26 transgender deaths attributed to murder, according to The Advocate.com.
“The first transgender to be killed in 2017 here in Mississippi, so close to Jackson, that really hits home,” friend Keith Dupree told Mississippi News Now.
“She was a happy person that loved everyone and never met a stranger,” Evonne Kaho, CEO of the transgender nonprofit Love Me Unlimited 4 Life, told the Clarion-Ledger in nearby Jackson.
“For me as a black transgender woman and the leader of the community, it’s a very hard pill to swallow," Kaho said.
The victim's brother, Cedrick Caldwell, wants who ever committed the crime to come forward and face justice.
“I feel like how you are going to kill a person and throw them out the car. That is the most heartbreaking thing. I feel like if you did it, hold up for it. If you were man enough to do it, be man enough to hold up for it,” Caldwell was quoted as saying.
Kaho told the Clarion-Ledger that Caldwell's death is bigger than one person, it symbolizes something very wrong with American society.
“Each time a person of trans experience is killed or experiences violence against them, it is an assault against all of the ideals that we as a country stand for. The ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. The freedom of being who we want to be and being entitled to do so without persecution.”
This is not the first high-profile slaying of a transgender woman in Mississippi.
In June last year, 25-year-old nurse Dee Whigham was stabbed 119 times in a hotel room. A sailor has pleaded not guilty in the death.
Madison County law enforcement is asking anyone with information about Caldwell's death to come forward.
A candlelight vigil for Caldwell is planned in a local park, Mississippi News Now reported.