Terrie Ladwig was born Larry Earl Thompson Jr in the Philippines on April 13, 1966 to Larry and Mrs. (Tolentino) Thompson. She married Steven Ladwig in July 1994 who regarded his wife as female. She was tragically killed by an unknown assailant on December 2, 1994 in Concord, California
Contra Costa Times (Concord, California) - December 2, 2004
Unsolved case haunts 10 years later
CONCORD - The decade-old headlines in her scrapbooks tell a story that haunts Brittany Ann Shoras. Ten years ago today, a killing occurred that was noted in a small Times story headlined: "Sailor returns home to find his wife slain." Three days later, another Times article reported an appeal by Concord police to anyone who might have spoken to Terrie Ladwig in the days before her sailor husband found her strangled with a white electrical cord in their Adelaide Street apartment. Six days later, police found Ladwig's Buick Regal, but it did not lead to a suspect. A final story on Dec. 13, 1994, this time on the front page, carried the large headline: "Strangled woman is revealed to be a man." Then nothing. For a decade.
"The case is not solved, I want it solved," said Shoras, who was a friend of Terrie Ladwig and, as a transgendered woman living in Concord, can identify with her case. I just don't want to be a statistic on a list," she said.
On her Web site, rememberingourdead.org, Gwen Smith of Antioch keeps a list of some of the transgendered folks, including Terrie Ladwig, who have been killed nationwide over the years. The statistics don't look good for the agencies investigating these crimes. Of the 322 cases involving slain transsexuals, drag queens, cross-dressers and others with varied gender identities, only one-third have been solved. Police are getting better at addressing violence against transgendered people, said Smith, a writer for the Bay Area Reporter and the Philadelphia Gay News and board member at Gender Education Advocacy.
In Washington, D.C., after a rash of violence against transgendered people, the police department assigned a liaison to the transgender community, she said. But many departments are not as responsive. "What I've seen in some areas is you'll see police that are very quick to drop a case or will refer to it as a suicide when there's evidence to the contrary," Smith said. Concord police Detective Mike Warnock said he thinks the Ladwig case is solvable. The department has pulled it out of the cold case file within the past year. "Individuals who were originally interviewed are being reinterviewed," Warnock said.
Ladwig's husband, Steven Ladwig, was quickly cleared as a suspect in 1994. He had been on a submarine at sea and then at his Navy base in Bangor, Wash., when his wife was killed. The Ladwigs were married in July 1994, Steven Ladwig told the Times after the killing. He considered his wife, who was born Larry Earl Thompson Jr., female. She was preparing to have gender-reassignment surgery, he said. After their marriage, Ladwig went back to sea. He had returned to base when, on Nov. 28, Terrie Ladwig called to say someone was trying to break down the apartment door.
No one called police, Warnock said, but Steven Ladwig rushed home. According to a coroner's report, he found his wife beaten and strangled on their bed. There was no sign of forced entry and she had a small amount of alcohol and methamphetamine in her blood. Neither Steven Ladwig nor his wife's family could be located for this story. Warnock said police have not heard from them for years. Warnock said one theory is that someone reacted violently after finding out that Terrie Ladwig was a biological man. That scenario was part of the defense in a recent case against four men accused of killing Gwen Araujo, a transgendered teen from Newark. The case ended in a mistrial in June but will be retried next year.
Christopher Daley, director of the Transgender Law Center in San Francisco, said the so-called gender fraud argument shows a bias that is not applied to other romantic relationships. "Transgender folks are under no obligation to disclose their identity to folks," Daley said, just as anyone entering into a casual relationship is under no obligation to reveal everything. Warnock would not talk about his investigation, except to say, "Every homicide case, just about, there's some type of biological evidence left." Shoras, 46, is glad Concord police are taking another look at the case. She keeps articles and pictures of Terrie Ladwig and Araujo in large binders, and tries to educate people on what it means to be transgendered so that others like them do not become statistics.
"Transgendered is between your ears, not what's between your legs," she said.
California Death Index (1940-1997)
Larry Earl Thompson
born: April 13, 1966 in Philippines
died: Dec 2, 1994 in Contra Costa County