Bil Browning

Arrest made in Taysia Elzy case; IMPD to establish LGBT liaison

Filed By Bil Browning | December 31, 2008 4:45 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Transgender & Intersex
Tags: Avery Elzy, Indianapolis, Laysia Lovely, Michael Hunt, Taysia Elzy, trans killing, transgender violence

CBS station WISH-TV is reporting that a suspect has been arrested in the double homicide of Taysia Elzy and Michael Hunt. 9601453_BG1.jpgThe news station continues to refer to the victims as "two men" and, although new photographs are easily available showing Taysia Elzy as she presented, they continue to use the mugshot photos of the victims.

Police arrested a man Wednesday in connection with the deaths of two men in a Broad Ripple home on the day after Christmas.

U.S. Marshals and Fort Wayne police took Christopher Conwell, 20, of Fort Wayne, into custody in the northeastern Indiana city Wednesday morning, 6News' Rafael Sanchez reported.

Strangely, local NBC affiliate WTHR is also referring to the victims as "two men," but have not used the mugshot photos. Avery_Elzy_2.JPGInstead the TV station used this picture of Hunt and Elzy together with Elzy clearly presenting as a woman.

After the jump, IMPD establishes an LGBT liaison, apologizes to LGBT community and an exclusive statement from Vivian Benge, the President of the Indiana Transgender Advocacy Alliance.

A few local organizations (not just LGBT) met yesterday with officials from the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and Public Safety Director Scott Newman in a previously scheduled meeting to discuss hate crimes legislation. Indiana Equality, the statewide LGBT equality org, organized the meeting to facilitate a wide coalition of advocates for the legislation.

Indiana Transgender Advocacy Alliance President Vivian Benge sent an exclusive statement to me moments ago.

We discussed the Taysia Elzy/Michael Hunt murders at some length, as well as other concerns of the transgender community.

INTRAA is satisfied that the IMPD is doing everything it can to solve this heinous crime and to bring the perpetrator to justice.

INTRAA understands that the business of solving crimes and bringing criminals to justice is a dangerous and often thankless one for the police.

At the same time we, and the IMPD, recognize that there is a gulf of misinformation and history that separates the transgender community from a healthy trust of the police. This lack of understanding has a long history, but one that must be overcome in order that our community, and the larger LGBT community, can be made safer from such outrages.

INTRAA and IE participants in the meeting also addressed language and communication issues, such as the comment:

"... the] two individuals did live an alternative lifestyle" 12/27/08 Channel 13 video of Lt. Kevin Kelly regarding 12/26/08 murders of Avery Elzy and Michael Hunt.

INTRAA is persuaded that there was no malicious intent and no offence meant. In actuality, Lt. Kelly has been sensitive to language regarding people who are transgender, in the past, and we recognize communicating about cases involving people who are transgender can also be elicited and used by the press in ways not intended by the police department. Press attitudes must also be changed so that the flow of information to the public is appropriate and ethical.

Sources familiar with the details of the meeting also told me the police department confirmed to attendees that they will be establishing an LGBT liaison as I advocated. The sources also echoed Benge's statement that police officials apologized for the phrase "alternative lifestyle."

Officials also let LGBT organizations know that the crime didn't appear to be a hate crime. A motive was not mentioned, just that it probably wasn't a hate crime. Police also told attendees that they had a suspect but didn't release a motive. Since that meeting, police have arrested Christopher Conwell in Ft. Wayne, Indiana.

Indiana Equality has not released any details of the meeting. None of the other organizations have either, except for Benge's details of the conversation about the Hunt/Elzy murders.

Police have not released a motive for the slayings.


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Thank you Bil for all your hard work! I'm glad INTRAA got to speak with the police. Maybe a meeting can also be set up with news media people to discuss appropriate information put out to the public.

The fact that INTRAA was represented at the meeting is a huge plus to me. As one of the most abused groups in society, they definitely need a place at the table.

Thanks for the update, it's good to hear about the LGBT liaison

Good to hear the news about the LGBT liason is official now. It has been talked about and planned for quite some time, (ironically, the idea was nixed during the last, Democratic administration) but funding and other issues prevented it before now. Glad to hear it is coming around now.

I have heard some names, all former police or officers about to retire. All of the names I have heard are good choices from my knowledge of the officers.

Glad also to hear it pointed out that Lt. Kelly's comments were taken out of context. He's old police, sometimes his terms are a little dated, but he is a solid detective with excellent investigative skills who treats every homicide seriously.

Now we just need to keep the pressure up to make sure it's not empty words again.

What names have you heard bandied about, Chuck? I'd like to look into their backgrounds.

Whatever the reason behind these killings it is good to see that the IMPD appears to be on top of the situation. The liason was a great idea. Makes me wonder how the ISP handles things on their end.

Great Job Bil, now I guess we have to get them to report hate crimes.

Amen, James. Hopefully, the meeting will bear fruit and we'll get a hate crimes bill passed this year if several minority groups, the Prosecutor's office and the police join together to demand the legislation. It's plain embarrassing to be only one of five states without the protections.

Bil Thank You! You are a great advocate for our entire community. It is so very important that police department's are aware of the sensitivities of the LGBT people. You took action immediately. Thank you Bil, you are wonderful!

No need to thank me. Thank IMPD for listening! I'm just a blogger; I can report and complain, but IMPD took action. :)

The comments at the Indy Star are pathetic, angering, and victim-blaming.

:(

The suspect has apparently confessed.

Link

Thanks for the link, Veronica. I found this paragraph particularly interesting:

Thompson said Rodgers-Conwell used a woman’s name to refer to Elzy, and one of Elzy’s neighbors said Elzy dressed like a woman and used a woman’s name. However, Thompson said Elzy’s sexuality is not believed to be related to the killing.

I'm sick of the 'alternative lifestyle' comment being unnecessarily inserted when GLBT peeps are killed.

There is really no evidence that this was a hate crime, kids. Both "victims" had previous arrests, so maybe there is more to it than meets the eye. Think about the fact that the only available pictures that the Star came up with were mug shots...

First, we're not kids. You can stop with the ageist comment meant to demean the readers and me.

Second, why put "victims" in quote marks? You don't think they were victims? Does the fact that one is transgender, they both were black, or the fact that they had criminal histories disqualify them from being victims of murder? In your book, of course, since I doubt anyone else would hesitate to call the victims.

Third, it took minutes to find another picture of the two that wasn't mugshots. They were not the "only available pictures." If I can find them, surely a reporter with much better access can.

Think about the fact that the only available pictures that the Star came up with were mug shots...

Those mugshot were NOT the only pictures available of Taysia and Michael as the Project has shown and I doubt that the Indy Star would have used mugshots, nor dragged out their prior arrest records for a murdered non Black couple.

Point taken..

I wondered abut that man in Carmel who murdered his wife who was a writer for TV. and the Indy Star gets no pass on this. They are conservative.

troschne...... wha the hell does having prior arrests mean??? do you infer that because they had prior arrests that they were ok to murder??? and as to the fact of not being a hate crime? jury is not out on that one.

Bil you go for challening the ageist comment.

If not a true hate crime why kill a dog too? to me it is highly suspicious any time a Trans person is assulted, murdered that hate is not part of the equation because of the feelings of people about what a trans person is or for that matter what anyone is who is different sexuality than the killer.

Point taken..

I wondered abut that man in Carmel who murdered his wife who was a writer for TV. and the Indy Star gets no pass on this. They are conservative.

troschne...... wha the hell does having prior arrests mean??? do you infer that because they had prior arrests that they were ok to murder??? and as to the fact of not being a hate crime? jury is not out on that one.

Bil you go for challening the ageist comment.

If not a true hate crime why kill a dog too? to me it is highly suspicious any time a Trans person is assulted, murdered that hate is not part of the equation because of the feelings of people about what a trans person is or for that matter what anyone is who is different sexuality than the killer.

If anything positive can come from a hate crime, establishment of the GLBT liaison for the IPD would be it, although the amount of teeth such a board can wield is variable. Nothing brings back lives lost, but preventing even a few assaults and murders in the future will help.

Then, there's the matter of the Indy Star, which has been a bad paper as long as I've been reading papers. They don't even cover the 500, Colts, or Pacers very well. Good luck changing the culture of that yellow rag.