Three years after her death, Jacksonville police still seeking leads in murder of Jenna Franks

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) – Saturday marks three years since a transgender woman was found murdered in a wooded area in Jacksonville and police are still looking for leads to help catch who is responsible.

Jenna Franks’ murder is being investigated as a hate crime by Jacksonville police and the FBI.

Her body was found in a wooded area near Ellis Boulevard and White Street by a city work crew that was in the process of clearing debris from a draining ditch.

The 34-year-old woman was found with multiple stab wounds to the neck and leg. The FBI says the person(s) responsible is likely familiar with the area.

“It’s really frightening to know it’s been so long and whoever committed this hate crime might be sitting next to me,” Onslow County LGBTQ Community Center Board member Jazmine Carson said.

According to Onslow County LGBTQ Community Center Founder Dennis Biancuzzo, there were over 300 transgender women killed in 2023 in the U.S. This hits home for Carson as she is a transgender woman herself.

“I’m unsafe. I’m worried for myself,” Carson said.

The community center started in 2020 to provide a safe space for the LGBTQ community. Biancuzzo said Franks was in their transitional housing program and they are motivated to continue LGBTQ support to prevent this tragedy from happening again.

A reward of up to $15,000 is being offered in this case for information related to an arrest.

“It’s likely whoever killed Jenna is familiar with the area where her body was found and may continue to live or work in the community. We are not ruling out the killer moved away and are hoping someone comes forward with information” said Jacksonville Detective Scott Eichelberger.

Anyone who may have information that would assist in the investigation can contact Detective Scott Eichelberger at 910-938-6440 or [email protected], FBI Charlotte at 704-672-6100, or Crime Stoppers at 910-938-3273.