"We have not identified a suspect," said Sgt. Scott Larson, a Minneapolis homicide investigator working on the case.
A week or two before her death, Bates showed up to the CVS on Hennepin and 12th with a black eye. It was a cold night, but Bates wasn't wearing gloves.[jump]
"She mentioned that her keys had gotten stolen," says Natasha Babvani, a CVS clerk who frequently chatted with Bates.
When Babvani expressed her concern, Bates waved it off.
"Yeah, that's life," she said.
Bates came to CVS to buy her necessities: toilet paper, orange juice, milk, shaving cream. She bought a lot of make-up and cigarettes. Sometimes, she whiled away hours in the store, ceaselessly pushing a shopping cart through the aisles.
Some of the few people who knew her best were the store clerks. Bates often joked with the staff.
"She was one of my favorite customers," says Emily Norgaard.
Bates often asked about their personal lives, though she revealed little about her own, Norgaard says.
"She said she was married," says one clerk, who didn't want his name used once he heard that Bates had been murdered.
When customers were rude to the clerks, Bates stood up for them.
"Don't you just hate it when people are rude?" she would say in her thick Southern drawl, in full earshot of the misbehaving shopper.Though in her online photos Bates has curly blond hair, one clerk who often saw her said she regularly came in wearing a shoulder-length red wig.
"There's nothing to indicate that it is," he said.
It's also not yet clear whether the fact that Bates was transgender had anything to do with why she was targeted, but it's a concern, says says Deputy Chief Rob Allen.
"Any time we have a murder like that--with somebody from the LGBT community, or a racial minority, or a racial difference between suspect and victim--you're worried that somebody's status might have something to do with the crime."