Elise Malary's Body Found After Fears for Transgender Activist's Safety

A dead body found in Lake Michigan has been identified as Elise Malary, a transgender activist who had been missing for over a week, police said Saturday.

Malary, 31, of Evanston, Illinois, was first reported missing on March 11 after not being in touch with family for two days, according to a statement sent to Newsweek by the Evanston police. Her body was found washed up on rocks on Thursday in Evanston, a suburb north of Chicago.

Considered a major transgender rights advocate by the local LGBTQ community, Malary's disappearance sparked a significant search effort. Her 2008 Honda Accord was eventually located on Tuesday, on the same Evanston street where she was last seen, prompting police to pursue security camera footage in the area. Prior to her body being found, police did not suspect foul play in Malary's case.

Elise Malary
The body of Elise Malary, a prominent LGBTQ activist in Illinois, was found washed up on the shore of Lake Michigan on Thursday, police announced Saturday. police

The Evanston Police Department told Newsweek that the investigation into Malary's disappearance and death was ongoing. As of Saturday afternoon, the department said that there were no updates available in the case. An autopsy was conducted on Friday, but the activist's cause of death has not yet been determined.

Prior to her disappearance, police said Malary had quit her job of two years at the Illinois Attorney General's Civil Rights Bureau. Alarm for her safety was first raised by her sister, Fabiana Malary, who was unable to reach her via calls or texts. Management at her apartment complex, where she lived alone, found that her door was unlocked and she was not home.

"She's never done anything like this before," Fabiana said in an interview with CBS News. "So that's why it's been just so alarming for us. The front door was unlocked, and the back door was unlocked—and that is very, very unusual with my sister. She's always on top of her safety. She never plays about that."

Fabiana Malary acknowledged in the interview that her sister's identity prominence in the local LGBTQ community could make her a target for some people.

"Our family is in utter disarray with the fact she's missing, and we cannot think about what life would be like if she wasn't here anymore," Fabiana added.

Malary's LinkedIn page indicated that, prior to her time as an administrative clerk in the Civil Rights Bureau, she also served on the board of the LGBTQ-focused Chicago Therapy Collective and once interned for the AIDS Foundation of Chicago.

Update 03/22/22, 6:30 p.m. ET:This article was updated to reflect a statement sent to Newsweek by Evanston Police.