Some relief for the family of a transgender person murdered in cold blood, after Fresno police announce murder charges against the accused killer who was already locked up for an unrelated crime.
Gerald Haggard thought this day may never come.
“It’s been wrenching for my family and this has been a long time coming,” said Gerald Haggard, the victim’s brother.
On Monday, he received a phone call from Fresno police saying they’ve caught his sibling’s suspected killer, Richard Lopez, 38.
“I think it’s the beginning of closure,” Gerald Haggard said.
Surveillance video captured the brutal attack on July 23, 2015. Kenton KC Haggard, 66, was wearing a dress walking down Blackstone at Cornell, police said, when an SUV approached.
Police said the passenger called Haggard to the vehicle and stabbed Haggard in the neck. Haggard later died at the hospital.
“We strongly suspect that Kenton Haggard was murdered due to his or her sexual orientation of being transgender,” said Fresno Police Chief Jerry Dyer.
Karen Adell Scot, Director of TransCare said haggard was a man transitioning into a woman.
“KC Haggard was a brand new coming out transgender woman. She had been to group four times. She made a Facebook page with her name,” said Scot. “She had hopes and dreams for a future of being her real authentic self and that was violently stolen.”
Investigators found the suspect’s SUV five days later. the owner was locked up in an Oregon jail for a separate crime and had sold the vehicle to Lopez.
Police even questioned the man who they say cleaned the suspect’s vehicle after the murder. He was never charged and last year was killed in a motorcycle crash, police said.
After months and years of no arrests, the LGBTQ community held rallies for justice. But Monday, they’re pleased Fresno PD has their suspect. Lopez was already in jail and sentenced for a separate elder abuse and auto theft case for stealing a pickup from an elderly couple in Auberry.
Detectives waited to question him until after his sentencing.
Police said evidence they found in the SUV links Lopez to Haggard’s murder.
“That evidence was substantial, was able to demonstrate clearly that that vehicle had been involved in a murder,” Chief Dyer said.
Gerald Haggard said it’s been heartbreaking losing his only sibling.
“He was very kind, very helpful, always sympathetic to people who didn’t have the best luck in the world,” said Gerald Haggard.
Lopez was sentenced to 3 years in prison for that separate elder abuse and auto theft case. Police said they know identity of the SUV’s driver but it’s unclear whether he’s facing charges.