VANCOUVER, Wash. — A man accused of strangling a teenager after learning she was transgender and dumping her body in a mountainous area of southwest Washington made his first court appearance Wednesday on a charge of second-degree murder.
The remains of Nikki Kuhnhausen, 17, were found earlier this month in the Larch Mountain area of Clark County by a person gathering bear grass. Kuhnhausen disappeared June 6.
Clark County Superior Court Judge Suzan Clark denied bail for the suspect, David Bogdanov, 25, during a brief hearing Wednesday. Defense attorney Erin Bradley McAleer deferred any comment until a hearing to challenge the no-bail order on Jan. 2.
The final charge against Bogdanov, including whether he will be charged with a hate crime, will be determined by prosecutors, who are reviewing the case, Sgt. Jeff Kip said.
In court documents, Vancouver police say Kuhnhausen and Bogdanov met in downtown Vancouver on June 6 and he and his brothers invited her to a bar for a drink. Bogdanov told detectives he gave her his coat because she was cold, and after one drink, he let her keep what was left in a bottle of vodka before she returned home.
Kuhnhausen did go home, but went out again to meet Bogdanov several hours later. At some point, court documents say, she told Bogdanov she was assigned male at birth.
In an Oct. 2 interview with police, Bogdanov said at that point he asked Kuhnhausen to get out of his van and he never saw her again.
He told detectives he was “shocked,” “uncomfortable,” and “really really disturbed” to learn that Kuhnhausen was transgender, according to the affidavit. Detectives wrote in court documents that they believe that is when Bogdanov killed the teen.
Cellphone records show Bogdanov was in the Larch Mountain area later in the day on June 6.
A skull that was identified as Kuhnhausen’s was found on the mountain on Dec. 7. More remains and unspecified evidence were found after an exhaustive search of an area that spanned several hundred feet in very steep terrain, authorities said at the news conference.
A medical examiner ruled the teen’s cause of death was asphyxiation.