(NY DAILY NEWS) – A woman who founded the Miss Trans America pageant is believed to be the first known transgender person killed this year.
Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, 42, was found stabbed and beaten in her North Adams, Mass. home on Friday night, according to a police statement cited by Masslive.com.
Her husband Mark Steele-Knudslien was charged with first-degree murder on Monday after he walked into the police department at 9:09 p.m. on Friday and said he had done “something very bad.”
He entered a not guilty plea and is scheduled to appear back in court on Feb. 7.
In an interview with police officers, Mark Steele-Knudslien said he “snapped” after he got into an argument with his wife, according to a police statement filed in Northern Berkshire District Court.
He told police he struck his wife with a hammer and stabbed her in the back before wrapping her body in a tarp, according to the report.
Police arrived at the couple’s home at around 9:20 p.m. on Friday, where Christa Steele-Knudslien’s body was found wrapped up in the basement, according to police.
An autopsy conducted by the chief medical examiner revealed Christa Steele-Knudslien bled to death after she was stabbed and beaten.
The transgender community mourned the death of Christa Steele-Knudslien, who wrote, “My husband and I are going to try to work things out,” in a Facebook post dated January 2017.
“Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien is the 1st known transgender person to be killed this year,” GLAAD said.
Dru Levasseur of Lambda Legal’s Transgender Rights Project, credited Christa for being “a powerful organizer and fierce activist” who founded the Miss Trans Northampton and Miss Trans New England Pageants “which inspired so many in our community.”
“I am so sorry to those who were very close to her. We must all support each other in this time of horror and sadness. She deserved better. She deserved life and happiness. Rest in Power, Christa,” Levasseur wrote.
The Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition issued a statement that read, “Christa was a wonderful person, who had a profound impact on the trans and gender non-conforming community, particularly in Western Massachusetts.”