Transgender woman found near Mulholland Highway may have died of overdose, officials say
A transgender woman whose body was found on the side of Mulholland Highway last week may have died of an overdose, officials said Tuesday.
Friends and family identified the person as Day Rodas, 27, who worked and advocated for LGBTQ health and rights.
Rodas’ body was found Thursday morning in the 33000 block of Mulholland Highway, a rural, two-lane road with few buildings nearby. Authorities have released few details around the circumstances of her death, such as whether she was a homicide victim or if she may have been driven to the spot where she was found.
Roda was found about 7:45 a.m. Firefighters attempted to revive her, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.
In a statement, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department said her body showed no obvious signs of trauma. The case is being handled by Sheriff’s Department homicide investigators.
On Tuesday, sheriff’s officials said in a statement that an autopsy was conducted Friday. Although a cause of death has not been officially determined, the autopsy indicated Rodas had narcotics in her body at the time of her death, officials said.
Friends and family said they were still looking for answers about what happened to Rodas, and that they were devastated by her death.
“She was just a very accepting person,” said Steve Lopez, a friend.
Rodas had begun her transition earlier this year and about six months ago told those around her she identified as a woman, loved ones said.
“She recently started living her life authentically as she came out to friends and family about being a trans woman,” her family wrote in a GoFundMe appeal hoping to raise money for funeral costs. “After being afraid for 27 years, she only got to live freely without fear for only six months, which breaks our hearts.”
Rodas worked with the Los Angeles LGBT Center in its community health program.
“Day was a vital member of the Center, working within our Community Health Program, and she worked devotedly during her tenure to keep LGBTQ+ people educated, informed and safe,” the center’s chief executive, Joe Hollendoner, said in a statement.
Hollendoner noted that hate crimes and hateful rhetoric against transgender people are on the rise. He also criticized law enforcement and local media for misgendering Rodas when her body was found. When her body was discovered Thursday, sheriff officials said it was a woman’s. Hours later, the department issued an update and said the body was a man’s.
Family and friends said Day had suffered disrespect when she began to identify as a transgender woman and adopted the name Day.
“Shortly after joining our team, Day announced that she identified as a transgender woman,” Hollendoner said in the statement. “Her colleagues and family alike have expressed that Day seemed like she was beginning a new chapter — one where she could finally be her authentic self. To have her life cut short in this moment — and under such troubling circumstances — makes her loss all the more heartbreaking.”
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