‘Backpacks for Jenna’ will honor transgender woman’s death one year later


JACKSONVILLE, NC (WNCT) – February marks one year since the homicide of a transgender woman in Jacksonville. 

The Onslow County LGBTQ Community Center plans to take part in “Backpacks for Jenna,” distributing backpacks full of supplies to homeless people in the community on February 26, two days after the one-year anniversary of Jenna Franks’ murder. 

“We’re kind of still in the dark about a lot of stuff, which, you know, in an investigation, you can’t really release too much or, you know, word spreads fast,” said Jenna’s sister, Heidi Crisco. 

Jenna’s body was found on February 24 near Ellis Boulevard and White Street in Jacksonville, floating in a nearby creek. An autopsy report released last June states Jenna died from multiple stab wounds. Her death is being investigated as a homicide and potential hate crime by Jacksonville Police Department and the FBI. 

“Mentally, it’s affected our dad really, really bad. He just hasn’t been in a good spot since it happened. And then, for us, Amber and myself, we just felt like we, we had to be strong,” said Crisco. 

The Onslow County LGBTQ Community Center says since her murder, the community feels unsettled knowing her killer is still out there. 

“Since February 24th of 2021, not only the transgender community within Jacksonville but also the LGBTQ community has been on heightened alert knowing that someone within our community was the target of a murder,” said Executive Director of the Onslow LGBTQ Community Center, Dennis Biancuzzo. 

The family says they didn’t know about the backpack plan until now and say they wish they could be there. 

Jenna’s sister adds the family hopes to have answers one day. 

“We’re just hopeful that one day we’ll you know, know who did it and have the justice and hope that the system can work to find the answers for us and you know, give Jenna the justice that she deserves,” said Crisco. 

These backpacks will be “survival backpacks” filled with items like blankets, gloves, hygiene items and non-perishable food. After they distribute the bags they plan to have a brief ceremony of remembrance for Jenna. 

The center said they want to honor her in any way they can. 

“This murder needs to be solved. The family of Jenna Frank’s needs to have closure and this community needs to have closure,” said Biancuzzo. 

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