Miss Trans America’s husband arrested and charged with her murder
The husband of Miss Trans America has been arrested and charged with her murder.
Mark Steele-Knudslien has been officially charged with the murder of Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien after he walked into a police station and confessed to murdering her.
He was arraigned yesterday morning on a count of first-degree murder.
Christa Leigh was found wrapped in bedding, plastic sheeting and tar pooling in the basement of their home.
She had been stabbed a number of times, with the blood loss leading to her death.
She also had blunt force trauma to the head.
Steele-Knudslien entered a not guilty plea during the arraignment.
According to a police report of his first interview, he confessed to the murder, he said that he had done “something very bad”.
The report read: “[He] stated he killed Christa by striking her numerous times with a hammer and then finally killed her by stabbing her in the back with a large knife.
“Steele-Knudslien later wrapped Christa’s body in a tarp and moved her to the basement which is where the body could be found.”
The defendant told police in an interview prior to his pleas that his wife was “always belittling him” and that he eventually “snapped”.
He told police how he took a hammer and hit her in the back of the head before stabbing her in the back.
He then showered, went to buy alcohol and then returned home to wrap her body.
Steele-Knudslien is being held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without bail.
The two wed last year after moving to North Adams. Prior to the move, they lived in Adams for three years.
Christa Leigh was known for founding and running Miss Trans New England and Miss Trans America pageants.
She is believed to be the first transgender woman killed in the US this year.
Writing on Transgender Day of Remembrance last year, Christa alluded to relationship tension with her husband but sad that they were going to “try to work things out”.
Approximately 325 trans people were killed in the 12 months ahead of Trans Day of Remembrance, which took place in November.
25 of those were murdered in the US.
2017 saw a total of 28 trans people fatally shot or killed by other violent means making it the most violent year on record for trans people yet.
Last year preceded 2016 for being the most violent year with 27 recorded deaths of trans people due to fatal violence being recorded.
A large majority of the victims were trans women of colour.
However, the actual number of trans homicides is likely to be much higher than recorded due to misgendered victims and unreported murders.
These numbers are also not accounting for death by suicide.
a 2016 report by the National Centre for Transgender Equality found that 40% of transgender adults have attempted suicide with the report highlighting “pervasive mistreatment, harassment and violence in pretty much every facet of life whether that be in the schools, the workplace or family life.”
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A similar report, published this year by LGBT+ group Stonewall, revealed that nearly half of transgender children have attempted suicide.
In 2015, The White House was urged to launch a formal investigation into the high rates of trans people murdered every year.
The violent treatment of the trans community stems from increasing transphobic attitudes in America.
The defence allowed defendants to blame a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity as a reasoning behind violent crimes committed against LGBTQ+ people.
It comes as the law banning the defence was signed off by Governor Bruce Rauner in August after the motion wasn’t opposed by anyone in the state House or Senate.
California was the first state to outlaw the defence, and many more states including New Jersey, Massachusetts and Pennsylvania are expected to follow suit this year.