A 17-year-old transgender teen girl was found dead inside a vehicle on the outskirts of Little Rock, Arkansas, on June 25 in a disturbing case that has raised some suspicions of a possible murder-for-hire plot.
Brayla Stone’s body was discovered in a car parked on a walking path in Sherwood, just northeast of Little Rock, and local news outlets are reporting that the case is being treated as a homicide. A change.org petition calling for justice for Stone, which has drawn more than 160,000 signatures, states that “her killer boasted about the murder on social media saying that he was payed [sic] $5,000 for the crime.”
Multiple news outlets have pointed to screenshots of an unverified Instagram post that was allegedly posted and then deleted. The post showed a pile of cash, including $100 bills and $50 bills, and that Instagram user allegedly wrote, “I zipped em for 5K Money Well Spent,” with laughing emojis.
It is not clear how the author of the petition or the news outlets referring to the Instagram post reached conclusions that the social media post could be tied to Stone’s death. The screenshots of the post did not mention Stone’s name and there was no clear connection between Stone and the Instagram user.
The case became even messier when Stone became the victim of deadnaming in the media. The local Fox affiliate misgendered her, prompting a wave of complaints from folks who were upset that the victim was deadnamed. The Fox affiliate then doubled down and continued to deadname Stone after her family asked the outlet to refer to her birth name.
While that same Fox affiliate reported that police in Sherwood are investigating the case as a homicide, the police chief there did not respond to Gay City News’ requests for information about the case.
More than a dozen transgender individuals — predominantly Black transgender women — have suffered violent deaths in the United States this year alone. Stone’s death came just weeks after a Black transgender man, Kristian Rouse, was brutally beaten at his apartment in Bakersfield, California, but said he does not remember the attack. He was forced to spend approximately a month on a ventilator in an intensive care unit and continues to suffer from injuries he sustained during the attack.
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