Trans Teen Murdered! Hate Crime?
Her family and friends remembered Nikki Kuhnhausen as a "rainbow of light" during a standing-room-only candlelight vigil held December 20 for the transgendered teenager in Larch Mountain, Oregon.
The seventeen-year-old went missing in June. Some people out picking bear grass on Larch Mountain in early December found a human skull, which was later identified as Nikki's last remains.
"She was a rainbow of light," says Kuhnhausen's mother, Lisa Woods. "She loved me unconditionally. She never left my side, and when she didn't answer my messages on June 6, I knew something was wrong."
Nikki's stepfather, Vincent Woods, describes the six months following her disappearance to a "roller coaster ride, up and down, playing in our minds."
But once a positive ID was made on the skull found on Larch Mountain, Lisa says, they knew the ugly, awful truth. Nikki was dead. And worse, she'd been killed.
"My fears and my visions and nightmares were true stories," Lisa says. "For six months, I prayed that wasn't what was happening."
Nikki came out as a transgendered girl when she was only in the sixth grade. "And she was full of confidence," says Lisa.
But trouble loomed. Nikki began to go on social media to meet men. Lisa says Nikki started to lie about her age, telling men she was twenty-one when she was only seventeen.
And Nikki met the man accused of killing her in a white-hot fit of rage through an online app, according to Vancouver, Washington police detectives.
Court documents obtained by KGW-TV show Nikki was allegedly strangled to death by a twenty-five-year-old man who became enraged when he discovered Nikki had been born male.
The suspect, David Bogdanov, faces a charge of second-degree murder. Police had been talking to him since October. He admitted right away that he'd met Nikki online, they'd gotten together, and he'd kicked her out of his van because Nikki was born male.
"I believe he killed her because she was a transgender," Lisa says. "I believe that with all my heart."
As of this writing, Bogdanov had not faced trial.
She needed money. He wanted sex. Craigslist brought them together. Now, everyone's dead.