Police in Sherwood, Arkansas — a city 10 miles north of Little Rock — are investigating the murder of 17-year-old trans woman Brayla Stone after they discovered her body on June 25. Police found Stone in a van parked near a walking path in the Gap Creek area.
Police have said they’re not sure whether Stone was killed in Sherwood or transported there following her murder. It’s also unclear how exactly Stone was murdered as police have refused to release details until they notify Stone’s next of kin to identify her body.
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FOX 16, one of the first news outlets to report on Stone’s murder, continues to deadname the young woman, writing, “Many people are asking us to refer to the victim as ‘Brayla.’ We have consulted with the Stone family. They have asked us to use the victim’s birth name in our reporting.”
While police haven’t released any information on suspects or a motive, an Instagram user named @tapnseason posted an image of $100 bills and claimed that he had been paid $5,000 to murder Stone. His account has since been deleted, and it’s unclear if he was actually involved in any way.
The young woman seems to have been an aspiring musician. Her YouTube channel includes a humorously dramatic audio track in which she plays a woman calling Brayla to tell her that the man she’s sleeping with actually belongs to her.
A Change.org petition demanding “Justice for Brayla Stone” has collected 149,271 as of June 30.
In a Facebook post, the Arkansas-based LGBTQ organization, the Center for Artistic Revolution, wrote, “Brayla was someone who always held space for others to be themselves and express their identities. Despite the fact that these institutions didn’t support Brayla, it is important that we uplift her memory and dedicate ourselves to seeking justice for her.”
Stone is one of several trans women of color who has been killed during Pride month. Earlier this month, two Black transgender women were slain: Dominique Rem’mie Fells of Pennsylvania and Riah Milton of Ohio. A trans woman in Chicago, Selena Reyes-Hernandez, was also murdered this month after she disclosed her trans identity to her murderer.