GALVESTON — Activists are having vigils across the state this week for a Houston couple found dead outside a Port Bolivar convenience store earlier this month, as authorities continue to search for a vehicle that belonged to one of the 24-year-old victims.
Members of GetEQUAL TX, a statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights advocacy group, are holding the vigils Wednesday to celebrate the lives of Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson, said C.D. Kirven, a member of the organization.
“They were in love with each other,” Kirven said. “We want to let people know that an open lesbian couple has support in the community.”
The vigils in Dallas, Fort Worth, Austin and Corpus Christi — an event scheduled in Galveston has been canceled on concern of lack of interest — will serve as an opportunity to bring attention to broader issues affecting the gay-lesbian community, she said.
“We want to have a community discussion to see what we can do for women, particularly lesbian women, who suffer from violence,” Kirven said. “It’s got the community afraid.”
She said the Montrose Center in Houston supports lesbian, bisexual, guy and transgender individuals and families, and provides counseling and anti-violence training.
Britney Cosby’s father, James Larry Cosby, was arrested Thursday and charged with two counts of tampering with or fabricating physical evidence with the intent to impair a human corpse, a second degree felony.
Those charges may be upgraded to capital murder, according to the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office.
According to the criminal complaint, James Larry Cosby saw his daughter’s body March 6 — the day before the women’s bodies were found — but did not report the corpse to authorities.
A bloodstained shutter matching window shutters at Cosby’s home in the Sunnyside subdivision of Houston was found near where the women’s bodies were discovered.
A shutter was missing from a window at Cosby’s home, and a fingerprint matching Larry James Cosby’s left thumbprint was found on the shutter in Port Bolivar, according to the affidavit.
Investigators searching Cosby’s home found bloodstains throughout the residence and in Cosby’s bedroom, according to the affidavit.
Autopsies determined that Jackson died of a single gunshot wound, and Britney Cosby suffered blunt force trauma to her head as well as a broken neck, according to the criminal complaint.
Relatives of Jackson and Britney Cosby have said publicly that James Larry Cosby disapproved of his daughter’s relationship with Jackson, but authorities have not confirmed a motive in the killings.
Kirven said her group will push to have hate crime charges filed against whoever killed the two women, and will urge the U.S. Department of Justice to get involved with the case.
Texas’ hate crime statute allows for criminal charges in cases where a crime is committed because of a bias against sexual orientation.
However, prosecutors are unlikely to seek hate crime charges for a first degree felony or capital murder charge, particularly in a family related case, said Chuck Smith the executive director of Equality Texas.
Kirven said she hopes the vigils Wednesday will also show support for Jackson’s 5-year-old daughter.
“We want her to know that the LGBT community supported her family,” Kirven said.
Authorities are continuing to search for Britney Cosby’s vehicle. GetEQUAL TX is working to raise money for a reward to encourage someone to come forward with information about the vehicle, Kirven said.
The silver 2006 Kia Sorento was recorded by surveillance video entering the Galveston-Bolivar ferry landing in Galveston at 9:18 p.m. March 6 and was observed leaving the ferry in Port Bolivar at 9:41 p.m., according to the affidavit.
James Larry Cosby remains in the Galveston County Jail on bonds totaling $500,000.
Funerals for Jackson and Britney Cosby were Saturday.
Anyone with information that may lead to the missing vehicle is asked to call the Galveston County Sheriff’s Office tip line, 866-248-8477, or Galveston County Crimestoppers, 409-763-8477.
At a glance
Anyone with information in the deaths of Britney Cosby and Crystal Jackson or whereabouts of Cosby’s silver 2006 Kia Sorento can call County Sheriff’s Office tip line, 866-248-8477, or Galveston County Crimestoppers, 409-763-8477.