ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (TCD) — Officials arrested a 29-year-old man this week who is accused of killing a missing transgender woman in September.
According to a news release from the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office, on Sept. 26 at approximately 1:20 a.m., deputies responded to a report of a possible deceased person near Central Avenue Southwest and 136th St. SW. When they arrived, deputies were met by a search party looking for a missing transgender woman, 35-year-old Sherlyn Marjorie. They reportedly discovered a body near a ditch, who they believe is Marjorie.
The Sheriff’s Office said detectives “pursued multiple leads, executed search warrants, and meticulously analyzed surveillance footage.”
Through their efforts, the Sheriff’s Office identified Jose Juan Mendoza Espinoza as the primary suspect, and officials obtained a search warrant for his home.
During an interview with investigators, Espinoza reportedly “admitted to being in a clandestine sexual relationship with Ms. Marjorie,” and he allegedly paid her to stay quiet about it.
According to the Sheriff’s Office, Espinoza confessed that he killed Marjorie “after she allegedly threatened to disclose their relationship to his family.”
The Sheriff’s Office said evidence found at Espinoza’s residence supported his confession and aligned with the timeline of events.
On Wednesday, Oct. 11, Espinoza was booked into the Bernalillo County Jail on one count of first-degree murder and four counts of tampering with evidence.
The Sheriff’s Office noted that at this time, “There is no evidence to suggest or reason to believe that this incident was a hate crime specifically targeting individuals in the transgender community.”