The body of Ashley Santiago Ocasio, a 31-year-old transgender woman, was discovered in a bloody crime scene at her home outside San Juan, Puerto Rico on April 19. The island's LGBT community believes this could be a hate crime and are concerned authorities are not fully investigating the murder, reports the Washington Post.
The case has grabbed headlines and renewed complaints that Puerto Rico has never invoked a 2002 hate crime law covering crimes based on sexual orientation or gender identity. In the last five months alone, there have been five instances where the statute could have been used, said Pedro Julio Serrano, a spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "The law is very clear and we're asking authorities to investigate without prejudice," Serrano said. The grisly scene at Santiago's home raised suspicion that she may have been targeted because of her gender identity.
Santiago was shot in the head but "there was so much blood spattered" that police initially reported Santiago had been repeatedly stabbed .
Last November, the gruesome murder and dismemberment of 19-year-old Jorge Steven López Mercado made international news. The trial begins in less than two weeks and Juan A. Martínez Matos, the man who confessed, faces first-degree murder and weapons charges. Puerto Rico's Republican Gov. Luis Fortuño, who resisted efforts to prosecute the López case as a hate crime, has yet to make any public comment.