BRAWLEY – Homicide investigators are asking for the public’s assistance in the death of Marilyn Cazares, a 22-year-old Trans-Latinx woman found murdered in an abandoned building in this small Imperial Valley city just 45 minutes north of the U.S.-Mexico border earlier this week.
Cazares’s aunt described her as charismatic, brave, and outspoken. Cazares is the 22nd transgender or gender-nonconforming person killed this year in the United States.
A spokesperson for the Brawley Police Department told the local Desert Review newspaper that Cazares was found near an abandoned single-family residence on the 1100 block of Main Street in Brawley around 8:30 a.m this past Monday, July 13, when BPD patrol officers and Brawley Fire Department personnel responded to a report of a couch fire near the building.
“This is just the early part of the investigative process so we’re just investigating as a homicide right now,” Commander Brett Houser said. “We haven’t established a motive or anything of that nature yet.”
Though no motives have been officially declared by investigators, the family of Cazares believes it to be a hate crime due to the state the body was found in, according to family members.
Cazares’s eldest aunt, Sonia Casteñeda, told the paper that Cazares went through a lot as a child, including being bullied for being “a little bit different.”
“You know how when you’re different, people don’t understand it? Especially kids. Kids can be cruel sometimes,” Casteñeda said
Despite her fun-loving nature, the family said they don’t know why anyone would injure their beloved family member with such “gory details” not currently being released to the public, Casteñeda said.
On Thursday the Human Rights Campaign posted to their blog, “HRC is heartbroken to learn of the death of Marilyn Cazares, a transgender Latina killed in Brawley, California. Her death is believed to be the at least 22nd violent death of a transgender or gender non-conforming person this year in the U.S. We say at least because too often these stories go unreported — or misreported. Since HRC began tracking this data in 2013, advocates have never seen such a high number at this point in the year.
Mindy Garcia, an aunt of Cazares, said she “loved to sing and dance” and “never bothered anyone.” On Twitter, community members are remembering Cazares, who was known in the community for her colorful clothing. Her cousin — who notes that Cazares continued to use her birth name with family –reflected on a memory of her cousin “jamming out to Billie Jean like the badass queen she was” while in the car.
The Desert Review reported that the family has created a GoFundMe account to help pay for the funeral expenses for Cazares. Their GoFundMe page can be found here: (Link)
Anyone with further information regarding Cazares’s death is asked to contact Brawley Police Detective Sergeant Jesse Rotner at 760-351-7777.