JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WGHP/WNCT) — Two years after a trans woman was found dead in Eastern North Carolina, the FBI is asking for information and offering a reward for information about her death.
Jenna Franks, 34, was found dead near Ellis Boulevard and White Street in Jacksonville on Feb. 24, 2021. Investigators determined that Franks’ death was a homicide and are investigating as a possible hate crime.
Franks was one of three transwomen killed in 2021 in North Carolina, along with Jaida Peterson and Remy Fennell, both from the Charlotte area, who were both shot to death in April 2021. Arrests have been made in the deaths of Peterson and Fennell.
“She had a smile that would light up a room,” said Jessica Wilson, Jenna’s sister. “She had the best heart. She would give her shirt off her back to anybody that wasn’t needing it, even though she was homeless herself.
“It’s been really rough without Jenna here. Every year on Jenna’s birthday, and the date where she died I host a celebration for her life.”
At least 57 transgender people, most of the Black or Latina transgender women, were killed in 2021 according to the Human Rights Campaign. At least 38 trans or gender non-conforming people were killed in 2022.
“Jenna’s case is still open, it’s still active, we still have it assigned to an investigator. However, our leads have grown cold at the moment,” said Capt. Mike Capps with the Jacksonville Police Department.
“There is a person or persons that’s responsible for this murder, that still potentially here in our community.”
With the case being investigated as a possible hate crime, others within the LGBTQ+ community agree it needs to be resolved.
“We still don’t have answers here,” said Lillith Campos, vice chair of the Onslow Cunty LGBTQ+ Center. “So there’s somebody still out there, you know, that that wants to do us harm. At least one person we know that wants to do us harm. So there’s definitely concern for safety,”
Anyone with information is asked to contact the FBI office in Charlotte at (704) 672-6100 or the Jacksonville Police Department Crime Stoppers at (910) 938-3273. Information that leads to an arrest could qualify for a $15,000 reward, according to an FBI tweet.