As thousands around Houston gathered for Pride weekend, others in the town of Portland, Texas, grieved over the tragic loss of a young lesbian couple, found shot in the head in a nearby park.
Mollie Judith Olgin, 19, and Mary Kristene Chapa, 18, were discovered by hikers the morning of June 23, their bodies lying in an area of tall grass in Portland’s Violet Andrews Park. Chapa was rushed to the hospital and underwent emergency surgery, but her girlfriend, Mollie, was pronounced dead at the scene. As of June 27, Chapa remains in serious condition.
Currently, the police have not identified any suspects. Bullet casings from a larger-caliber gun were recovered at the scene, leading police to believe the girls were shot where they were found. Officials do not feel that this attack was random, but have not yet established a motive.
“I’ve been trying to think of anyone that I know that would actually want to harm them for any reason, especially for them being a couple, and not one person has ever come to mind,” Samantha Garrett, friend of the victims, said in an interview with MSNBC.
The couple’s relationship was widely accepted, according to friends. The pair had been together since mid-February of this year. There is currently no evidence that the women were targeted because of their relationship, and the crimes are not yet formally being considered acts of discrimination against the LGBT community.
Friends and family have decorated the scene of the crime with rainbow ribbons, messages of hope and goodbyes, flowers, and cut-out hearts in remembrance and honor of the girls. Candlelight vigils are being held nationally in over 11 cities, including San Francisco, Washington DC, and Houston, according to GetEqual TX.
“Our hearts go out to Mollie and Kristene’s friends, family, and community, who are still in shock from this attack,” GLAAD President Herndon Graddick said. “We wish Kristene the very best as she recovers from this senseless act, and are heartened to see their community join together to stand in support of them and other young couples like them.”
The local police, along with the Texas Rangers, FBI, and Department of Justice are currently investigating the crime and surrounding circumstances.
“Regardless of the motivation behind this tragedy, we must send a strong message that violence is never acceptable,” Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in a statement released by the organization. Griffin hopes to see a thorough investigation of the crimes and justice for these two young women. “These women, and all victims of violent crimes, deserve nothing less,” he said. — Megan Smith