Metro Weekly

Prosecutors seek death penalty in violent murder of Missouri transgender teen

Andrew Vrba is accused of repeatedly stabbing 17-year-old Ally Steinfeld and burning her body to dispose of evidence

Ally Lee Steinfeld – Photo: Facebook.

Prosecutors in Missouri are seeking the death penalty for the chief suspect in the murder of a transgender teenager, reports Fox News.

Andrew Vrba, 18, has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Ally Steinfeld. Prosecutors claim Vrba carried out the murder with the help of 18-year-old Isis Schauer and 24-year-old Briana Calderas, whom Steinfeld had been dating shortly after coming out as transgender, and was living with at the time of her death.

Schauer was sentenced to 20 years for second-degree murder, while Calderas awaits trial on first-degree murder charges. But it is Vrba, thought to be the leader of the trio, for whom prosecutors are seeking the death penalty.

A fourth youth, 25-year-old James Grigsby, faces charges of abandonment of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence for allegedly helping the others cover up Steinfeld’s death. He has pleaded not guilty.

According to prosecutors, Vrba told police he originally attempted to poison Steinfeld, but resorted to stabbing her after she would not drink the liquid. After he stabbed Steinfeld multiple times, gouging out her eyes and stabbing her in the genitals, Calderas and Schauer helped him burn Steinfeld’s body. They placed her remains in a plastic bag, and, with Grigsby’s help, hid them in a chicken coop.

Steinfeld’s remains were eventually discovered in Cabool, Mo., close to the trailer where she and Calderas had been living. Texas County Sheriff James Sigman and prosecutor Park Stevens, Jr., have insisted the crime was not motivated by Steinfeld’s gender identity, which is why Stevens did not pursue hate crime enhancements that could have lead to harsher penalties for those convicted of Steinfeld’s murder.

Steinfeld was one of 28 transgender people killed in the United States in 2017, making it the most violent year on record. It continues a disturbing trend in which transgender people are being increasingly becoming targets for violence.

Support Metro Weekly’s Journalism

These are challenging times for news organizations. And yet it’s crucial we stay active and provide vital resources and information to both our local readers and the world. So won’t you please take a moment and consider supporting Metro Weekly with a membership? For as little as $5 a month, you can help ensure Metro Weekly magazine and remain free, viable resources as we provide the best, most diverse, culturally-resonant LGBTQ coverage in both the D.C. region and around the world. Memberships come with exclusive perks and discounts, your own personal digital delivery of each week’s magazine (and an archive), access to our Member's Lounge when it launches this fall, and exclusive members-only items like Metro Weekly Membership Mugs and Tote Bags! Check out all our membership levels here and please join us today!