A U.S. Marine has been charged with murder in the death of a transgender Filipina woman in Manila over the weekend.
Police say 19-year-old Private First Class Joseph Scott Pemberton met 26-year-old Jennifer Laude, a transgender woman, at a Manila nightclub late Saturday night and later took her to a hotel in nearby Olongapo City.
Laude was found strangled to death in the hotel room shortly after the two arrived, and witnesses from the nightclub believe it’s because Pemberton didn’t know Laude was transgender. Police believe this fact could have angered him to the point of murder.
Pemberton was only identified thanks to cooperation from the U.S. Naval Criminal Investigation Service with the local Olongapo police investigation. He was identified as a suspect to the public after being picked out of a photo lineup by several witnesses who were in the nightclub earlier that night, as well as being seen on surveillance footage at the hotel.
He’s currently in U.S. custody aboard the USS Peleliu north of Manila, though the Philippine government has requested transfer of his custody. Reuters reports the U.S. doesn’t have to transfer custody of a member of the armed forces until judicial proceedings are complete.
Pemberton is based out of Camp Lejeune in North Carolina, where according to local NBC affiliate WITN, Filipino-Americans say Marines “should have been educated about the transgender population” and should be “briefed on the type of culture they were going to be in.”