India Clarke Update: Teen Suspect Arrested In Slaying Of Transgender Woman

The murder of India Clarke is a step closer to being solved with the arrest of a suspect. The Huffington Post reports that an 18-year-old Florida man has been arrested in the slaying of the transgender woman. Keith Lamayne Gaillard faces charges after authorities say that they found DNA linking him to the murder victim.

Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office released a statement revealing that the 18-year-old suspect’s DNA was found beneath the fingernails of the victim. A condom containing “fluid” was found in India’s car, which was also linked to the suspect, via DNA.

The Advocate reports that Clarke’s cause of death was a single gunshot wound to the head, though it had been previously reported that she suffered from some kind of blunt force trauma. She had also been shot in the arm. At least one witness spoke to investigators about Gaillard, sharing that the young man said that he “may have killed someone,” the night of India’s death. A witness also said that the man outright admitted to the murder. He reportedly volunteered the information when someone was talking about the death of India Clarke — the transgender woman who was found murdered in a park.

“That was me.”

India Clarke was the 12th transgender woman of color to be murdered in the United States this year, but The Advocate points out that many victims of homicide are misgendered and not acknowledged as transgender women. Initially, police in Florida misidentified India Clarke as a “man in women’s clothing,” which sparked outrage across the country among those who are transgender or who do not identify as cisgender.

The motive for India Clarke’s murder isn’t currently known, but numerous people have called her death a hate crime. The suspect is being held on $275,000 bail. Meanwhile, India’s loved ones continue to mourn her death, except for her parents. India’s parents, like the police in Hillsborough County, have referred to her with male pronouns instead of her preferred female pronouns. The police even shared a statement about it in the beginning.

“We are not going to categorize him as a transgender. We can just tell you he had women’s clothing on at the time. What his lifestyle was prior to that we don’t know — whether he was a cross-dresser, we don’t know.”

In the press release this week, authorities in Florida continued to refer to India Clarke by her male birth name, and announced that they will not classify her as a transgender woman.

[Photo: Hillsborough County Sheriff mugshot and India Clarke]