The body of a woman found in Illinois was identified on Saturday as trans rights activist Elise Malary, who was reporting missing by family more than a week ago.
Authorities responded to a report of “a woman in the water by the rocks”, which has now been identified as 31-year-old LGBTQ+ rights advocate Elise Malary.
Malary’s family reported her missing on 11 March after not hearing from her for two days, with authorities initially saying there was no indication of foul play.
The day she was reported missing, her family and friends searched for Malary in a park in Evanston, according to ABC.
Evanston police said she was last seen near her apartment in Evanston, and that her car was discovered in a parking lot just blocks away on Tuesday, the outlet reported.
Malary’s body was discovered on Thursday, 17 March, by 19-year-old Tristan Lambach, on the lakefront in the Chicago suburb of Evanston, Illinois.
Malary was a dedicated activist who worked tirelessly for the LGBT+ and BIPOC communities in Chicago and was a board member of the Chicago Therapy Collective – a nonprofit organisation that “promotes city-wide accountability and action to alleviate LGBTQIA health disparities.”
“She’d speak out on behalf of any issue that impacted women of color, LGBTQ folk — her heart’s so big,” said Iggy Ladden of Chicago Therapy Collective before police announced she had died, according to the Chicago Sun Times.
Tributes for Malary poured from the local community on social media.
Maria Hadden, alderwoman for Chicago’s 49th ward, said: “There’s no easy way to say this – I’m heartbroken to share that Elise is no longer alive and with us.
“She has been identified and now her family, friends and our community begin to process her loss and our grief. Elise Malary will be missed terribly.”
Illinois Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton said:
“I met Elise Malary at a meeting doing what she did so well: advocating for equitable access to healthcare and safe work spaces for LGBTQ+ Illinoisans. Her life mattered. And our brief encounter made me a better leader. Peace and love to all who are mourning. Rest well, Elise.”
The governor of Illinois said:
“The loss of Elise Malary is heartbreaking. My heart goes out to all her loved ones, as well as all of Illinois’ transgender community. You deserve to feel safe in your home, and I will continue to do everything in my power to make Illinois welcoming and inclusive for everyone.”
Malary’s cause of death is still unknown, pending an investigation by the Cook County medical examiner.
There's no easy way to say this – I'm heartbroken to share that Elise is no longer alive and with us. She has been identified and now her family, friends and our community begin to process her loss and our grief. Elise Malary will be missed terribly. @ChiTherapyColl pic.twitter.com/nUJg66pYyC— Alderwoman Hadden (@ChiAlderwoman) March 19, 2022
I met Elise Malary at a meeting doing what she did so well: advocating for equitable access to healthcare and safe work spaces for LGBTQ+ Illinoisans.— Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton (@LtGovStratton) March 20, 2022
Her life mattered. And our brief encounter made me a better leader. Peace and love to all who are mourning. Rest well, Elise. pic.twitter.com/tiz4IYrQJV