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A Washington State man is being held without bail after being accused of murdering a transgender teenager who has been missing since June.
David Bogdanov, 25, has been charged with second-degree murder for allegedly killing 18-year-old Nikki Kuhnhausen after he discovered she was born male.
Kuhnahausen’s remains were found on Dec. 7, after a person collecting bear grass reported finding a human skull on a steep, densely wooded embankment near Larch Mountain, in a remote part of northeast Clark County.
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office and Clark County Search and Rescue found additional human remains and other evidence at the site, including Kuhnhausen’s clothing, jewelry, and hair extensions.
A forensic analysis confirmed the remains were those of Kuhnhausen, and determined that she had died of strangulation, reports The Columbian.
Investigators say Kuhnhausen had allegedly been talking with Bogdanov via Snapchat prior to her death, and the two had arranged to meet on June 6, when she was last seen alive.
They claim records for Bogdanov’s cell phone show the phone was in the same remote area where Kuhnhausen’s remains were found.
“We suspect that there was probably some interaction where — and by his own admission — that he determined that, somehow found out during conversation that, she was transgender and…that was offensive to his culture and he asked her to get out of his van,” Lt. Tom Ryan of the Vancouver Police Department Major Crimes Unit told KATU.
According to an affidavit, Bogdanov told police that he had encountered Kuhnhausen in the 1300 block of Main Street, in downtown Vancouver, and invited her to join him and his brothers at a bar.
He gave Kuhnhausen his coat, he said, because she was cold. He also gave her vodka to drink and let her keep the bottle.
Kuhnhausen’s friends said she returned to a friend’s house, where she had been staying, around 5 a.m. on June 6, wearing the coat and carrying a bottle of vodka, telling her friends that she had been out with an older Russian man.
She then used a friend’s cellphone to access her Snapchat account, and exchanged messages with Bogdanov, ostensibly because he was going to help her get a cellphone later that morning.
The affidavit claims that Bogdanov and his brother, Stanislav, picked her up in a white van, and drove to their brother Artur Bogdanov’s residence so David could get his work van. As the two talked, Bogdanov learned that Kuhnhausen was transgender, which upset him and made him uncomfortable.
Bogdanov claims he asked her to get out of the van, and she walked away on foot, while he went to his brother’s job site in downtown Portland.
But prosecutors claim phone data shows that Bogdanov had been at an adult video store early that morning and made numerous calls to female escort ads. It also showed him in east Clark County near the area of Larch Mountain.
Bogdanov has denied he had any sexual contact with Kuhnhausen. But prosecutors contend that he became enraged after realizing he had engaged in sexual contact with someone who was transgender and strangled Kuhnhausen to death.
Bogdanov appeared in court on Wednesday, at which point Judge Suzan Clark granted the state’s request for him to be held without bail while he awaits trial. A hearing to contest that ruling has been scheduled for Jan. 2.
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