Murder of transgender woman Ty Underwood by boyfriend Carlton Ray Champion Jr profiled on ID

Mugshot of Carlton Ray Champion
Carlton Ray Champion was convicted of shooting transgender woman Ty Underwood after their brief relationship collapsed. Pic credit: Gregg County Jail

This week on The Murder Tapes, the team travels to Tyler, Texas, to examine the case of Ty Underwood, a 24-year-old transgender woman, who was shot dead by her boyfriend Carlton Ray Champion Jr as their relationship fell apart.

In the small hours of January 26, 2015, officers responded to calls of shots fired and a crashed vehicle in Tyler. When they approached the car which had hit a telegraph pole, they discovered the driver had been shot dead.

On the night she died, Underwood had exchanged texts with a man called George Thomas, who she’d met through a dating website. Police were initially suspicious of Thomas as he lived not far from the crime scene in North Tyler.

However, Thomas was soon ruled as the killer when the police determined that the pair could not have met up that night. Thomas had also acted genuinely surprised when told of Underwood’s death and had cooperated fully with investigators.

It was when investigators began interviewing Underwood’s friends that they learned of her relationship with college football player Carlton Ray Champion Jr.

The police also learned that their relationship was currently strained. Underwood was annoyed that Champion had reactivated a dormant profile from a dating website, leading the pair to argue with each other.

On January 26, at approximately 2 AM, Champion texted Underwood asking her to meet him not far from his college dorm. Further messages reveal that the couple appeared to struggle to meet and that their texts became increasingly angry and aggressive.

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Carlton Champion was spotted leaving dorm by cameras

Surveillance footage from the college indicated that Champion had left his dorm shortly before the murder and returned not long after. Investigators also found blood on Champion’s jacket, although its origin was undetermined. His DNA was also found in Underwood’s car.

Investigators believe that Champion was either sat in the passenger seat or stood at the passenger window of Underwood’s car when he opened fire. Underwood then drove her car away from the scene before succumbing to her injuries and crashing the vehicle.

Despite the circumstantial nature of the evidence against Champion, he was charged with murder. The police believe that as the couple’s relationship fell apart, Champion decided that he wished to keep his affair with a transgender woman a secret.

While awaiting his trial in prison, Champion confessed to another inmate that he had killed Underwood. He was sentenced to life in prison.

More from The Murder Tapes

Follow the links to read about more murders profiled on The Murder Tapes.

Delvin’ Buckii’ Meadows was found late one night slumped on a neighbors porch in Blytheville, Arkansas; he had been shot dead. His murder remained a mystery for 15 months before the police arrested and charged 19-year-old Quincy Whitfield.

Jack Hamann murdered his 82-year-old landlady, Agnes Bram, with incredible savagery that shocked the authorities. Having bashed her skull in with a blunt object, he then left her body in the garage while he continued to live in his rented room until her body was discovered.

The Murder Tapes airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on Investigation Discovery.

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