Transphobia may be the motive behind the murder of Washington teen Nikki Kuhnhausen, according to Vancouver, Washington police.
Police announced that a suspect in her death, David Bogdanov, 25, was arrested last week.
Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17, was reported missing by her mom on June 10, 2019.
Kuhnhausen’s family and friends last saw her on June 6th, when she told them that she would be visiting a Russian man that she had previously met. Her Snapchat history revealed to investigators that the man was Bogdanov, who picked her up in his car later that night.
Investigators were pursuing Bogdanov for several months.
Police were finally able to locate him in October and brought him in for questioning.
Pink News quoted Clark County Police lieutenant Tom Ryan:
“David and Nikki went to a residence in the county and at that time [Nikki] confirmed to him that she was [trans].
David gave a statement saying that made him really, really uncomfortable and disturbed him, and he asked Nikki to get out of his van and she walked away.”
Police believed that there was more to the story, and that it was likely that he became enraged when Kuhnhausen told him she was born biologically male.
A hiker found Kuhnhausen’s remains on December 7th.
A skull was found on Larch Mountain and reported to police. Officers searched the area and found more human remains, and forensics were able to determine they were Kuhnausen’s.
Police also found Kuhnhausen’s hair extensions that appeared to be used as a ligature.
Bogdanov worked in construction and claimed to be at work the night that Kuhnausen died, but police were able to determine via his phone records that he was in the Larch Mountain area.
The discovery of her remains, along with the inconsistencies in his story, gave police enough evidence to arrest Bogdanov for second degree murder. According to KOIN 6 news, prosecutors have not yet decided if they will charge him with a hate crime.
A public vigil was held for Nikki last Friday.
Vigil for #NikkiKuhnhausen Friday 5-7pm #justicefornikki https://t.co/z4gDm27dXb @people @NYDailyNews @thedailybeast @DailyMail @AP @InsideEdition @GMA @TODAYshow @CBSNews @NBCNews @ABC @NancyGrace @glaad pic.twitter.com/0ctLa7ETvg
— NWCAVE (@NWCAVE) December 20, 2019
Family and friends, joined by their hundreds of mourners, gathered to honored the teenager, who was full of smiles and always making her friends laugh. The National Women’s Coalition Against Violence & Exploitation also attended the vigil.
NWCAVE has been actively following the case, using the hashtag #justicefornikki to raise awareness for her and other victims of anti-trans violence.
Please help get the word out about #justicefornikki #NikkiKuhnhausen https://t.co/z4gDm27dXb @marylambertsing @PattyArquette @TheEllenShow @glaad @HRC @TransEquality @TheAdvocateMag @TheRealCurve pic.twitter.com/mhQ72ow41m
— NWCAVE (@NWCAVE) December 19, 2019
A friend of Kuhnhausen told NBC News:
“She was so bright. Everything was a smile, even if she was just coming up to you, she would be smiling. She was always happy. She was a good person. She never did no harm to anybody.”
Violence against transgender and gender nonconforming people is an epidemic in the United States.
Kuhnhausen is the 24th known transgender or gender diverse person killed in the United States this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign website. The numbers may be even higher, as victims may be misgendered by authorities.