Puerto Rican police are investigating after a trans woman was found murdered in her home last week.

Ashley Santiago Ocasio, a 31-year-old beauty salon owner, was shot in the head in the central mountain town of Corozal last week.

Her car was missing, although there was no sign of a break-in.

Last November, the body of Jorge Steven Lopez Mercado was found burnt and dismembered by a road in the town of Cayey. The gay 19-year-old was known to cross-dress and was apparently seen getting into a man’s car while dressed as a woman before he was killed.

A suspect is facing trial on a charge of first-degree murder for Lopez’s killing. However, he will not be tried for a hate crime.

Local gay rights activists are calling on police to investigate Santiago’s death as a possible hate crime. If a killer was convicted, charges of hate crime would lead to a higher sentence.

As yet, there is no evidence that she was killed for being trans and a post mortem examination will be carried out.

Pedro Julio Serrano, a spokesman for the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, told Associated Press: “The law is very clear and we’re asking authorities to investigate without prejudice.

“Even if Ashley’s death was also a robbery, there could be the angle of hate. We need that to be investigated.”

Santiago was born male but had had breast surgery and was taking female hormones.

Her mother Carmen Ocasio told Puerto Rican newspaper Primera Hora she had lost a daughter and said Santiago had no enemies.