Four People Charged In Relation To Death, Mutilation Of Transgender Teen
Photo: James Grigsby, Briana Calderas, Andrew Vrba, Isis Schauer (Clockwise)
Four people (pictured) were charged in relation to the mutilation and death of a transgender Missouri teen.
18-year-old Isis Schauer, and 24-year-old Briana Calderas reportedly told authorities that they helped burn the body of 17-year-old Ally Lee Steinfeld, after a man gouged out the teen's eyes, repeatedly stabbed the victim in the genitals, and bragged about the killing, according to court documents.
Photo: Ally Lee Steinfeld
Andrew Vrba, 18 was also reportedly charged in connection with the death. James Grigsby was charged with abandonment of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence.
At present, authorities do not the believe the killing was a hate crime.
More from TIME:
As questions swirl about why the quiet 17-year-old was killed in such a ghastly manner, authorities aren't saying what led to the killing. But they dismiss the possibility the death was a hate crime.
Authorities identified the remains as those of Joseph Matthew Steinfeld Jr. — Ally Lee Steinfeld's birth name. They were found last week in the town of Cabool, near the mobile home of one of the alleged killers, 24-year-old Briana Calderas, with whom Steinfeld was living.
Calderas and two 18-year-olds, Andrew Vrba and Isis Schauer, are charged with first-degree murder and other counts. A fourth suspect is charged with abandonment of a corpse and tampering with evidence.
Both Sheriff James Sigman and prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr. insist the crime was not motivated by Steinfeld's gender identity.
"I would say murder in the first-degree is all that matters," Stevens said. "That is a hate crime in itself."
USA Today adds:
Missouri law allows certain low-level felonies and serious misdemeanors to be charged as hate offenses, if prosecutors believe an offender was motivated because of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation or disability of the victim or victims. In that case, there can be "enhanced penalties for certain offenses."
The charges filed against those accused in Steinfeld's killing are not covered by the hate offense statute — first-degree murder already carries more significant penalties than a hate offense.
At the federal level, the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act allows criminal prosecution of hate crimes motivated by the victim’s actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity, race, color, religion, national origin or disability. But to do so, a federal agency would have to take the case to court.