Fatal stabbing of transgender woman unsolved 3 years later, NC cops say. ‘Devastating’

The death of a transgender woman in North Carolina is still under investigation three years later as police seek justice.

Jenna Franks was found dead in a wooded area in Jacksonville Feb. 24, 2021, according to an update from Jacksonville Public Safety. Her death, which is being investigated as a murder, has remained unsolved without any named suspects for three years, police said.

A City of Jacksonville Streets Division work crew found Franks’ body while clearing debris from a drainage ditch in the area, according to police.

An autopsy released in 2021 showed Franks was stabbed multiple times in the neck and lower half of her body, WITN reported.

“It’s likely whoever killed Jenna is familiar with the area where her body was found and may continue to live or work in the community. We are not ruling out the killer moved away and are hoping someone comes forward with information,” the department’s detective Scott Eichelberger said in the update.

Franks’ death is under investigation as a “possible hate crime,” according to the FBI.

Franks was involved with the Onslow County LGBTQ+ Community Center before her death, according to a March 2021 news release from the Human Rights Campaign, a lobbying organization that advocates for the LGBTQ community. Her death “deeply saddened” the group, which denounced violence against the transgender community.

Forty-four transgender or nonbinary people were killed in 2020, according to the Human Rights Campaign. Tori Cooper, the organization’s director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative, called Franks’ death and other instances of violence against transgender people “devastating.”

“Jenna had family, friends and a community who cared about her,” Cooper said in the release. “Her life was taken far too soon.”

The department, along with the FBI, is offering up to $15,000 as a reward for further information on Franks’ death.

To provide any details on the case, contact Eichelberger at 910-938-6440 or seichelberger@jacksonvillenc.gov. You can also reach out to the FBI office in Charlotte at 704-672-6100 or Crime Stoppers at 910-938-3273.

Jacksonville is about 45 miles northeast of Wilmington.

If you are struggling or thinking of harming yourself, you can reach out to a counselor with the Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning) young people. Text ‘START’ to 678-678 or call 1-866-488-7386.

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