Family of dead transgender woman accuse police of not taking investigation seriously
How did Ashley Moore die? Newark police say she took her own life, but her mother doesn't believe that. She accuses police of failing to thoroughly investigate because Moore was a transgender woman of color. And nearly eight months after her death, a Kane In Your Corner investigation finds many unanswered questions.
Moore's Instagram feed shows a young woman with a bubbly personality. At 26, she was a chef at One Dine, the restaurant in the World Trade Center.
"Ashley was a bright, shining light, my firstborn, the beginning of my strength." says her mother, Starlet Carbin.
Moore's body was found April 1 outside the Newark YMCA, where she lived. She had severe injuries, including broken ribs, collapsed lungs and lacerations to her spleen and liver.
Police first believed Moore had been hit by a car but later concluded she jumped off the roof. Carbin believes her daughter was murdered. She cites the police incident report, which refers to "ligature marks" on Moore's legs. Ligature marks mean a person was bound, but the officer calls Moore's injuries consistent with being hit by a vehicle.
"It sounds like someone hogtied my child, possibly raped her, then strangled her and threw her outside," Carbin says.
But Kane In Your Corner finds Moore was alive minutes before her body was found. A witness reported seeing her leave her YMCA apartment and run down a stairwell. Police say she was not seen in the lobby so they think she must have fallen off the roof.
Former Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi tells Kane In Your Corner that doesn't mean she jumped, however. "On the strength of the evidence that we know right now, I would not be calling this a suicide," he says.
Bianchi adds, "This is at the YMCA. There’s a lot of people. There’s a lot of access. I would not be calling this a suicide on the strength that she had suicidal ideations in March and was giving some belongings away. Those are relevant facts but not enough for me to close that case out."
Carbin wonders how seriously police investigated the incident since officers never even called her to say her daughter had died. She found out on her own, more than a week later.
Those who know Moore say that they also wonder if her death was influenced by a previous police encounter. In July 2018, Moore says she was mugged, tried to file a police report, and was turned away by Newark police four times, according to a series of Instagram posts she recorded at the time.
Fifty-eight percent of transgender Americans who encounter police each year report abuse or mistreatment, according to the National Center for Transgender Equality.
"I think that put her in an even more dangerous position than she already was," says Celeste Fiore, attorney for the Moore/Carbin family. "Because presumably, had she felt threatened in 2020, she would not have called the police.”
Kane In Your Corner contacted the Newark Police Department, but a spokesperson declined to answer questions, saying the Essex County Prosecutor's Office has been asked to review the case. The prosecutor's office says that the review "is ongoing.”
Friday, the Newark LGBTQ Center will remember Ashley Moore and other transgender Americans who died this year, in a virtual Transgender Day of Remembrance event. More information about that event can be found on the center’s website.