NORTH ADAMS, Mass. - A transgender rights advocate who started a pageant for transgender women in New England was found stabbed and beaten to death inside her western Massachusetts home.
Police in North Adams said Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, 42, was found dead inside her Veazie Street home Friday night.
Her husband, Mark S. Steele-Knudslien, 47, has been arrested and charged with murder.
He pleaded not guilty in court Monday and is being held in jail without bail.
Masslive.com reports Mark S. Steele-Knudslien told police that he hit his wife several times with a hammer, and “then finally killed her by stabbing her in the back with a large knife.”
He then wrapped her body in a tarp and moved her to the basement before going to the police department, according to the report.
The killing allegedly occurred after Mark S. Steele-Knudslien “snapped” following an argument with his wife.
Friends say Christa Steele-Knudslien was well known in the Massachusetts transgender community for her activism and events, including the Miss Trans New England Pageant.
LGBT organization Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) said Christa Steele Knudslien is the first known killing of a transgender person in the country so far in 2018.
The Human Rights Campaign released a statement Monday and said it mourned the loss and said her violent death came as the orginazation released a report documenting acts of violence in 2017 making it the deadliest year on record for transgender people.
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