Friends of Murdered Transgender Teen Want Hate Crime Investigation

The beating murder of a Colorado transgender teen last week has left detectives stumped and friends wondering if it was a hate crime.

Greeley, Colo., police found the body of the 18-year-old on July 17 in the victim's apartment.

Police identified the victim as Justin David Zapata, but friends of the teen said he was living as a woman and went by the name Angie, according to MyFOX Colorado.

"It should be important to recognize that this is one aspect of Angie’s identity, and it should be factored in very seriously into the investigation," Kelly Costello of the Colorado Anti-Violence Program told MyFOX Colorado.

Police are still searching for Zapata's car, a 2003 dark green Chrysler PT Cruiser with the Colorado license plate 441ORN.

"Why would anybody even dare do something like that?" friend Alicia Portillo told MyFOX Colorado. "Why?"

On Wednesday, friends remembered Zapata as a caring friend who didn't care what others thought of her.

"She was beautiful and she wanted people to accept her for who she was,” Portillo said.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.