Body of transgender activist found in Anaheim was likely moved

A vigil for Zoraida
About 120 people gathered in downtown Santa Ana to remember Zoraida Reyes, a transgender woman whose body was found in a parking lot behind an Anaheim restaurant.
(Adolfo Flores / Los Angeles Times)

Investigators said it is likely that the body of a transgender woman found in a parking lot behind an Anaheim fast-food restaurant was moved there after she died.

The death of Zoraida “Ale” Reyes is being investigated as suspicious, although authorities said there were no immediate signs of foul play.

An autopsy has been completed but no cause of death was given pending further investigation, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department said.

“It is likely she didn’t pass away where she was found,” said Lt. Bob Dunn, spokesman for the Anaheim Police Department. “Until we find out what the cause of death was we won’t know for certain what it means.”


A toxicology report is pending but could take weeks or even months to complete, Dunn said.

The 28-year-old was found Thursday morning in a brushy area near a lot behind the Dairy Queen in the 200 block of North State College Boulevard by a customer who had parked there after ordering food at the eatery.

Reyes was born in Michoacan, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States, said her friend, Jorge Gutierrez. She was a graduate of Century High School in Santa Ana and received an associate degree from Santa Ana College.

She attended UC Santa Barbara but didn’t graduate because of tuition costs, Gutierrez said. Reyes moved back to Santa Ana about three years ago and was living with family when she died.


Despite being described as shy by friends, Reyes was active with several transgender and immigrant rights groups in Orange County. Last month, she attended a protest outside Santa Ana’s jail calling on the city to end its contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

During a vigil Friday in Santa Ana, many of those who attended said they were concerned that Reyes may have been the victim of violence because she was transgender.

“My friend had to die in order for us to come together,” said Alexa Vasquez, who said violence against transgender people is prevalent. “When I see you guys marching, I wish that I saw my friend walking with you.”

A fund for Reyes’ burial costs has been established by her friends.

For Orange County news, follow @AdolfoFlores3.



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