Nikki Kuhnhausen died in 2019 after falling victim to a hate-crime. CBS' 48 Hours is all set to narrate the tragic story of the lively, cheerful, and caring trans teen who was taken from the world too soon. The Life and Death of Nikki Kuhnhausen will air on Saturday, June 25, at 10 PM ET, exclusively on CBS.
Kuhnhausen was only 17 when she mysteriously disappeared on June 6, 2019. Although her whereabouts remained unclear for nearly six months, Nikki's mother, Lisa Woods, was sure that something bad had happened to her transgender daughter. Speaking about her relationship with the deceased, Woods reportedly said:
"I knew something had happened. She would never do this to me. I just knew that she was being held against her will or worse."
Although the disappearance was initially reported as a missing person's case, the discovery of the 17-year-old's remains on Larch Mountain six months after her disappearance led to the case being labeled a homicide. David Bogdanov became the prime suspect, and he was ultimately found guilty during the trial. He was convicted of second-degree murder in the 2019 murder case of Nikki Kuhnhausen, receiving a sentence of 19 and a half years in prison.
How was Nikki Kuhnhausen murdered in 2019?
According to reports, Nikki Kuhnhausen went to meet David Bogdanov, with whom she had been exchanging messages on Snapchat for a while. However, she never returned, which prompted her mother to file a missing person's report. An investigation was launched which revealed that Bogdanov was the last person Kuhnhausen met shortly before her disappearance.
About four months later, authorities interviewed David during which 25-year-old stated that he had asked Nikki to get out of his car upon finding out that the latter was transgender. He claimed that she had left immediately and it was the last time he ever saw her.
However, the discovery of Nikki's remains on Larch Mountain completely changed the course of the case. A hiker discovered the body and then the authorities further searched the area to find the victim's belongings such as rings and clothing items as well as the murder weapon, a cord. Following the discovery, a medical examiner revealed that Nikki's cause of death was strangulation. Cell tower records traced Bogdanov's phone to the Larch Mountain at the time, connecting him directly to the murder.
He was arrested and tried in court where the accused confessed that he had killed her in an act of self-defense. According to him, he got scared when she tried to take his gun and committed the murder. Panic-stricken, he dumped the body on the mountain. Bogdanov was found guilty of second-degree murder in Nikki Kuhnhausen's 2019 murder case and sentenced to prison for 19 and a half years.
In an effort to seek justice for the LGBTQIA+ community, Nikki's Law was passed in Washington, largely due to the efforts of Kuhnhausen's mother and the Justice for Nikki Task Force. The legislation intends to put a stop to the supposed "gay or trans panic defense" to stop people from using it as an excuse for violent behavior and crimes.
According to reports, Lisa Woods said:
"I want her death to mean something to someone who may contemplate hurting another transgender person."
An activist named Linden Walls from the Justice for Nikki team stated:
"Even though these crimes are not going to stop being committed, at least people can be held accountable to the fullest extent."
"I felt like David Bogdanov's defense was a very thinly-veiled trans panic defense. It didn't look much different than the stories that we've heard in the past for trans women that were murdered. It was a very powerful moment to feel that sense of justice. You know, I think being there with trans youth and other trans people … felt really powerful and healing."
CBS' 48 Hours is scheduled to tell the tragic tale of Nikki Kuhnhausen in its upcoming episode this Saturday, June 25, 2022.