by Mike Andrew -
SGN Staff Writer
A teenaged Lesbian couple, Mollie Judith Olgin and Mary Kristene Chapa, were shot at a park in Portland, Texas, near Corpus Christi, on June 23.
Olgin was hit in the neck and died at the scene. Chapa was shot in the head and remains in a local hospital in serious but stable condition. Police said they had not been able to interview her because she is still undergoing medical treatment.
'She is able to communicate,' Portland police chief Randy Wright told the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. 'But we have not yet been able to talk with her.'
The FBI and Texas Rangers, as the Texas state police are known, are assisting local police in the investigation.
According to friends, the two had been in a relationship for five months, and there was immediate speculation that their sexual orientation might be the motive for the shooting.
'That's always something that we're looking for, but as of this point, we have not been able to establish that [sexual orientation] had anything to do with the attack,' Wright said June 24.
On June 26 local police released an even more definitive statement.
'A motive in this case has not been established,' Wright said. 'There is no current evidence to indicate the attacks were motivated by that relationship & There's no evidence to suggest that this crime was committed as a bias against the girls [sic] or their lifestyle.'
Texas has had a hate crimes law on the books since May 12, 2001, covering 'sexual preference' as well as race, religion, color, sex, disability, age, and national origin, but a bias crime charge depends on identification of a suspect and the suspect's apparent motive.
Police said that while the shootings 'have some of the earmarks of a targeted attack,' they had no suspects in the case.
'If we had a name, you know, we'd be having a different conversation right now. But we have not been able to gather enough information to identify a suspect yet,' Wright said. 'It appears as if & this was not just a random attack but that's something that we really have to develop over time.'
According to Houston FBI spokesperson Shauna Dunlap, FBI agents from the Corpus Christi branch office are assisting local police in the investigation.
'But don't read too much into that,' Dunlap cautioned. 'We often assist local police departments. And that can range from resources and manpower to technical assistance.'
Dunlap told SGN that local police had requested help from the FBI but remain in charge of the investigation. She declined to comment on possible motives for the shooting.
Investigators are also being assisted by the Texas Rangers.
'We offered our assistance and & have been actively involved in the investigation since Sunday,' Tom Vinger, spokesman for Texas Department of Public Safety, told MSNBC. He declined to discuss details of the case.
Wright said police had recovered a bullet casing from a large-caliber gun at the scene, but had not found the weapon.
The murder scene, Violet Andrews Park, was described by local KRIS-TV reporters as 'more of a nature area with some parts overgrown and no lights.' Police said the ground was muddy and they discovered no footprints.
'We're not really sure how they got to the point that they were found,' Wright said.
'It is a scenic overlook with a wooden deck and there is a place at the edge of the deck where you can actually go down a very steep incline into a grassy area that leads down to the shoreline, and that's where they were found.'
Olgin, 19, was a student at Texas A&M and lived in Corpus Christi. Her car was found near the crime scene.
Chapa, 18, was described by friends as an athlete who loved softball.
Friends of the couple said they knew of no one who would want to hurt them.
'You always hear, 'They never did anything wrong. Why was it them? They were so innocent.' In all actuality, Mollie and Kristene were innocent. They never did anything wrong,' Samantha Garrett, Olgin's roommate, told local station KZTV.
'I've been trying to think of anybody I know who would try and hurt them for any reason - especially them being a couple, and not one person has ever come to mind.'
'It's something that I think all of us are going to carry with us for a while,' Frank Reyna, a friend of the women, told MSNBC.
'It's going to take a while to get past this, the idea that there is somebody still out there who did this to these two amazing, beautiful people, and that they're walking free right now.'
The Human Rights Campaign and Equality Texas released a joint statement Tuesday saying they had reached out to the U.S. Department of Justice, the FBI, and Portland police to urge a thorough investigation.
'Regardless of the motivation behind this tragedy, we must send a strong message that violence against anyone is never acceptable,' Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin said in the statement.
'We have reached out to law enforcement officials at both the federal and local level, and hope to see a thorough investigation. These women, and all victims of violent crimes, deserve nothing less.'
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