Police found the body of Kyra Cordova Sept. 3 in a wooded area off of Adams Avenue.
Cordova, 27, who went by the name Kyra Kruz on social media, is a former volunteer and employee of the Gay and Lesbian Latino AIDS Education Initiative.
Cordova’s body was found shortly after 5 a.m. on Labor Day with a gunshot wound to the head.
Investigators say Cordova was last seen at a nearby Wawa, where she purchased two sandwiches and two drinks.
According to her Facebook profile, Cordova graduated from North Penn Senior High School in Lansdale in 2003. Her MySpace page says she was in college studying biology, with aspirations of opening her own transgender medical facility.
Elicia Gonzales, executive director of GALAEI, said Cordova began volunteering with the agency in 2010 and was hired as an HIV tester within a few months.
“She came in one day out of the blue just full of energy and life, saying she wanted to volunteer,” Gonzales said. “As soon as a position became open, she was first in line to apply.”
While Cordova was technically a part-time employee, she often put in full-time hours.
On her first day on the job as a volunteer, she, without being asked, put together a PowerPoint presentation about GALAEI’s services for display in the agency’s lobby.
Last summer, Cordova coordinated and performed in GALAEI’s carnival-themed Pride parade contingent.
“The impact she made on not just our staff but on the whole community GALAEI serves was immeasurable,” Gonzales said. “Her energy and enthusiasm carried over into everything, in her work as a counselor and just as part of the GALAEI family.”
Gloria Casarez, the city’s director of LGBT affairs, called Cordova a “vibrant, visible face in the community.”
“She was a young person engaged in work that is about all of our lives,” Casarez said. “She was visible, she liked to have fun and even people who didn’t know her are going to relate to her.”
Cordova left GALAEI at the end of summer 2011.
Gonzales said she ran into her at this June’s Pride.
“She was full of life and just being fantastic as always,” she said. “For those of us who had the privilege of knowing her, you felt her presence when she walked into a room. There was no mistaking she was there. She always had a smile on her face, and she insisted on saying hello and goodbye any time she left our office. She was an incredible personality and very much willing to give back to our community, a very positive figure in the LGBT community.”
Brian Green, executive director of SafeGuards Project, said Cordova’s energetic, generous reputation was well-known.
“She was always very cheerful and just a positive person who was always willing to help out,” he said.
At this summer’s Prevention Conference during AIDS Education Month, Cordova took time during a session to speak to fellow audience members about the value of community involvement.
“She stood up and spoke for a few minutes and she was giving really encouraging words to other members of the trans community and other young people,” Green said. “She talked about how important it can be to get involved and to try to make a difference in your community. I remember she talked very pointedly about that.”
Cordova helped relaunch Young, Trans & Unified at The Attic Youth Center in 2010 and served as a facilitator for the support group.
In an interview with PGN at the time, she said she was “really excited for the chance to give back to the community” with that venture.
The murder comes as the community continues to grapple with the unsolved murders of transwomen Stacey Blahnik and Nizah Morris.
Casarez said she hopes Cordova’s murder motivates the community to continue to press for justice for all LGBT victims.
“Whenever any act of violence like this happens, it reminds you of all the other acts of violence that have happened,” she said. “This is a reminder to us that we have many of these cases out there and we need folks to keep getting the word out about this and these other unsolved cases. It’s just a sad, sad situation.”
Transgender group BLITZ will hold a candlelight vigil for Cordova at 8 p.m. Sept. 13 at William Way LGBT Community Center, 1315 Spruce St.
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