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Black trans woman found dead in the street and cremated without autopsy. Four months on, police are finally investigating

Lily Wakefield August 12, 2020
Ashley Moore

Black trans woman Ashley Moore was found dead outside the Newark YMCA on April 1. (kal.leia_j_idendrale/ Instagram)

Police are finally investigating the death of a Black trans woman who was found dead in the street more than four months ago with horrifying injuries and cremated without an autopsy.

Chef Ashley Moore was just 26 years old when she was found dead outside the YMCA in Newark, New Jersey, just after 4 am on April 1.

Her mother, nurse Starlet Carbin, was never notified by police that her daughter had passed away. Instead, she had to find out via Facebook when she visited her daughter’s profile to wish her a happy birthday, nine days after she had died.

Interviewed by activist Jasmin Singer, Carbin said: “All the information I obtained I got on my own. No one contacted me to let me know my child was dead.”

When Carbin contacted authorities, she was first told by a Newark police detective that a doctor at the hospital Moore was transported to before she was pronounced dead said she had likely been hit by a car. Later, the same detective suggested she could have fallen from a great height.

Carbin said the police report, which she was allowed to finally access at the end of July, noted that there were ligature marks on Moore’s legs, she had suffered rectal bleeding and her neck was “grossly swollen and disfigured”.

As a trained nurse, Carbin said: “Going into what I know when I’m looking at a patient, the description that’s in that police report is not of someone who fell or was hit by a vehicle.”

The police report also states that a witness saw Moore running down, not up, the stairs of the YMCA before she was found outside.

Ashley Moore’s death was ‘mishandled completely’.

When Carbin discovered that the police department’s complete lack of action did not correlate with her daughter’s injuries, she contacted the executive director of the Newark LGBTQ Community Center, Beatrice Simpkins.

Simpkins got in touch with Newark Police Department, and requested that they review traffic camera footage to see if the young trans woman had in fact been hit by a car. The footage showed that no traffic accident had taken place.

Interviewed alongside Carbin, Simpkins said: “It was mishandled completely and to me, it continues to be mishandled.

“Even after the discovery of the film, there hasn’t been a lot of followup.

“Part of this is because of the fact that Ashley is a Black trans woman, whose lives are not seen as valuable or worth the attention that someone else’s life may be worth.

“The institutional attitude was, ‘well, just another dead Black kid on the street’.”

The Newark LGBTQ Community Center has started the campaign “Justice for Ashley Moore” to demand a full investigation into her death, and is also raising funds to pay for an attorney. 

On Tuesday (August 11), 133 days after she was found, Newark Police Department finally announced that they would “review the death of Ashley Moore”.

Director Ambrose said in a statement: “This unfortunate incident has officially been ruled as a suicide and to date, our detectives have not discovered evidence to the contrary.

“However, I have reached out to Essex County Prosecutor Theodore Stephens and requested a review of Ms Moore’s death by the county’s Homicide Task Force.

“Upon completion of the Homicide Task Force’s review, we will apprise Ms Moore’s family of the outcome of these findings.”

Last week, the number of trans people in the US murdered this year surpassed the total for all of 2019, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.

More: ashley moore, Black trans woman, death, investigation, justice, Newark police department, ymca

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