A 20-year-old man has been charged in connection with the murder of a transgender woman in New Westminster earlier this year.

January Lapuz, 26, was found stabbed in her home on Sept. 30, and later died in hospital. Charles Jameson “Jamie” Neel was arrested Dec. 5 by the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and has now been charged with second-degree murder.

Lapuz, who was born John Carlo Embo Lapuz, was actively involved in her community. She was social coordinator for the South Asian gay, lesbian and transgender group, Sher Vancouver, since 2009.

The murder shocked the transgender community, and reminded Sher Vancouver founder Alex Sangha of the risk of violence and the importance of community support.

“There’s violence against women period, and if you’re different you’re even more vulnerable,” Sangha told CTV News in October. “I think it’s the responsibility of the community and society to provide safety for everyone… because a lot of this can be prevented.”

Police are still investigating the motive behind her murder.

Neel’s first court appearance was Thursday afternoon in New Westminster. Police are currently not providing further information while the case is in court.