Baltimore police acknowledged Wednesday afternoon that a homicide victim found early Tuesday in a field in Northeast Baltimore was a transgender woman, but details surrounding the case remained scarce.
Police said Tuesday night that a man had been found dead that morning at 6:30 a.m. in the 1400 block of Fillmore St., near the U.S. Post Office in the Coldstream-Homestead-Montebello neighborhood. They identified the victim as Ricky Carlos Hall, of the 4000 block of Raymonn Ave.
Police confirmed on Wednesday afternoon that Hall was a transgender woman who was known as "Kandy."
Acting Capt. Eric Kowalczyk, a police spokesman, said he took part in a conference call with leaders of the LGBT community on Wednesday evening to discuss what police know about the case — which apparently isn't much.
"We need the public's help trying to find out who is responsible for this," he said. "We don't know how the homicide occurred yet. We're waiting for the medical examiner to do the autopsy."
Jacqueline Robarge, whose organization Power Inside works with at-risk women, said there is a pattern of violence targeting vulnerable women. She said the lack of information about the case was troubling.
"Whatever information can be shared, to help people on the street understand how to keep themselves safe or contribute to a perpetrator being caught, I think that would be important," she said. "Just saying that someone was found is not sufficient if they have other details about a possible m.o."
Kowalczyk said there were no specific indications of how the victim was killed that investigators were able to share. He also reiterated the department's stated goal of improving relations with the transgender community.
"We're aware of the concern that the transgender community has with working with law enforcement," he said. "We still want to do whatever we can to bring this case to a close."
The killing occurred the same day Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake and Police Commissioner Anthony W. Batts held a public safety forum for Northeast District residents. Last year, Batts formed an LGBT advisory council to increase the agency's awareness of issues affecting the community.
Aaron Merki, a co-chair of the council and director of the Free State Legal Project, said he spoke with police about the case Wednesday, and while little information was provided, he said he was confident investigators were "very on top of it, and dedicated to completing the investigation."
Merki said his group and Equality Maryland were planning a meeting Friday afternoon to speak with police about the case. Details of the meeting were expected to be posted on the Facebook pages of Equality Maryland and Free State Legal Project.
Merki said it was "very inappropriate" for the Police Department to initially refer to Hall as a man after the killing, and noted that officers are being trained on how to interact with the LGBT community.
Since his arrival, Batts has spoken at two community events for the LGBT community, both times saying his goal is to improve relations between police, including neighborhood beat officers, and members of the LGBT community — in part to ensure cooperation whenever the community is victimized. Some transgender residents and other advocates spoke at those meetings of being profiled by police as prostitutes and criminals just for walking down the street.
"It's a real commitment. It's not lip service. The department is shifting gears," Kowalczyk said.
Attempts to find relatives of friends of Hall were not successful. Court records show she had been arrested twice in 2010 for prostitution.
Michele Murphy, a former Maryland public defender who represented Hall, said she recalled Hall as a "sweet person" but had not had contact with her in a few years.