Alex Franco, 21, a Trans Man Who “Lit Up Any Room,” Found Dead in Utah Desert

This is a developing story. It contains descriptions of violence against a trans person.

Alex Franco, a 21-year-old trans man, was found dead of a gunshot wound in a remote area of Utah early Tuesday morning, according to local CBS affiliate 2KUTV.

Franco was reportedly abducted on Sunday afternoon. His girlfriend, Alyssa Henry, last saw him outside her home in Taylorsville, a city in the Salt Lake City metropolitan area. Henry told 2KUTV that Franco was inside a white Jeep talking with “friends of friends” who were supposed to give the couple a ride to the park. But Henry heard a gunshot from inside the vehicle, which then drove away. On Tuesday, authorities found Franco’s body with a single gunshot wound in a “remote desert area of Utah County,” according to a statement by the Taylorsville Police Department.

Two teenage boys, one 17 and the other 15, were arrested in connection with the case and appeared in court on Wednesday. Another 17-year-old was taken into custody early Thursday morning, per local news station Fox 13. According to court remarks reported by the station, the three teenagers were allegedly selling a gun to Franco when they got into an argument; Taylorsville Police said that the teenagers intended to rob Franco of the money he was going to use to buy the gun.

Police told the news station that the three boys have been booked into the Salt Lake Valley Detention Center on multiple felony charges. They are next set to appear in court on March 27.

Franco’s loved ones gathered at a vigil for him on Tuesday night. A close friend, Chloe Goold, described him as someone “who lit up any room he entered,” according to 2KUTV. Vinnie Franco, Alex’s grandfather, posted to Facebook on Tuesday to memorialize his grandson, writing, “Alex took care of Me when I couldn’t walk, brought Me the Best ice water ever.” He also shared that he was “so happy” when Alex came out as trans and “became who he thought he should have been always.”

Franco’s family has started a crowdfunding campaign to help pay for his funeral expenses, and excess funds will be used to “help with grieving siblings’ mental health recovery.”

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