Christa Steele-Knudslien became the first transgender person in the United States known to be murdered in 2018, and police are accusing her husband, Mark, of committing the grisly and disturbing homicide.
According to The Huffington Post, Christa Steele-Knudslien was a well-known transgender rights activist. “In addition to founding the Miss Trans America pageant, she also helped launch the Miss Trans New England pageant and was one of the organizers of the first New England Trans Pride march in 2008,” the site reported. She was sometimes known as Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien. She was memorialized for her advocacy work.
The body of Christa, 42, was found in the couple’s Veazie Street North Adams, Massachusetts home on January 5, authorities say.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Mark Steele-Knudslien Is Accused of Murdering His Wife With a Hammer Before Wrapping Her Body in a Tarp
The details of the homicide are horrific. According to MassLive, Mark Steele-Knudslien, 47, walked into the Police Department and confessed that he had murdered his wife.
“[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,” the news site reported, quoting a police report. “Steele-Knudslien later wrapped Christa’s body in a tarp and moved her to the basement which is where the body could be found.”
According to The New York Daily News, Mark Steele-Knudslien “walked into the police department at 9:09 p.m. on Friday and said he had done ‘something very bad.’” A knife was missing from the kitchen butcher block, the news site reported.
2. Christa Was a Respected Activist Who Organized a Pageant to Highlight the Beauty of Transgender Women
Christa’s death caused grief throughout the community because she was a well-known activist who sought to highlight transgender issues and people. She “was well known in the Massachusetts transgender community for her activism and helped launch the first New England Trans Pride event a decade ago,” The New York Post reported.
“She and other advocates later started the Miss Trans New England Pageant, which brought together transgender women from across the region.” Friend Justin Adkins, told the Post: “Her thing was always that transgender women are beautiful and need a venue for trans women to be seen as beautiful.”
Tributes flowed in. “Our hearts remain heavy. Though we are grieving, may we find some peace in celebrating the many contributions Christa gave us…she was a passionate advocate and leader in our community, a friend, mentor and founder of Miss Trans New England and Miss Trans America,” wrote AVP.org.
3. The Husband Allegedly Told Police That He ‘Snapped’ After Feeling Belittled
MassLive reported that Mark told police he “snapped.” He is accused of saying he felt like she was belittling him, so he “began striking Christa in the head with a hammer in their living room. He then stabbed her in the back, took a shower and went to the liquor store to buy alcohol…After he returned, he wrapped Christa’s body and the murder weapons in bedding, plastic and a tarp and dragged them to the basement.”
According to Massachusetts authorities, “The preliminary results of an autopsy on a North Adams woman indicate she died of loss of blood due to a stab wound to the torso; a contributing factor was multiple blunt force traumas to the head.”
In a press release, authorities said that Mark Steele-Knudslien “has been arrested and charged with one (1) count of MURDER. It is alleged that he killed his wife whose body was found inside their Veazie Street North Adams home Friday evening” January 5, 2018.
4. Christa Was the First Transgender Person Known to Be Murdered in 2018 & She Posted In Remembrance About Other Transgender People’s Deaths
According to Glaad, “Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien is the 1st known transgender person to be killed this year. Violence against transgender people, especially trans women of color, must receive more national media attention.”
Christa had posted a remembrance on Facebook to transgender people who died tragically, writing, “Today is Transgender Day of Remembrance. My heart goes out to Jamie Wounded Arrow and all the life’s taken this year and years past.” She also posted tributes to the victims of the Orlando Pulse Nightclub mass shooting.
The organization called on the news media to better humanize transgender people and give more coverage to their deaths, writing, “With violence against transgender people at an all-time high and rising, national media coverage is severely lacking. The media must do a better job of reporting these murders and bringing needed attention to a community under vicious and violent attack. In order for people to be aware of the horrific violence affecting the community, the public needs to know it is happening. The media has a responsibility to communicate about the deadly realities faced by transgender people.”
5. Christa Called Her Husband ‘Baby’ on Facebook & Was Refurbishing Their Home
Christa’s last public Facebook post was written on January 4, and it was about snowblowing in the winter blizzard that struck the east coast. One friend wrote on the comment thread after the murder, ” i am going to miss you girl what happened ?????”
On Christmas, Christa wrote, “Had a AMAZING Christmas with hubby & great friends. Hopefully yours was as AMAZING.” A lot of her Facebook posts revolved around home decorating. She was extensively refurbishing the family’s home. She did write about some problems. In November 2017, she wrote, “Was threatened by a Walmart employee tonight at our local store.. Just got off the phone with the ethics department.”
She repeatedly referred to Mark as her “baby,” writing, “Double chocolate banana cream cake I made for my baby’s birthday. His Birthday is tomorrow but he has been a good boy this year so I just finished it and let him have a piece early this morning.. Lol.”
She also noted, “I think I see a political future in the near future.” Christa wrote on Facebook that she was went to Spring Valley High School in Minnesota, lived in Berkshire, Massachusetts, and was from Rochester, Minnesota.