In June 2019, a beloved teenager, Nikki Kuhnhausen, went missing after leaving home to meet a date. The desperate search for her ended about six months later when her remains were discovered in a remote part of Clark County, Washington. Both CBS’ ‘48 Hours: The Life and Death of Nikki Kuhnhausen’ and Hulu’s ‘How I Caught My Killer: Social Media? Yeah, it was her thing’ delves into the motivations behind Nikki’s death and how personal records proved instrumental in catching the culprit. So, let’s find out more about this case then, shall we?
How Did Nikki Kuhnhausen Die?
Nikki Kuhnhausen was a 17-year-old from Vancouver, Washington. A confident, self-assured teen, she was a loud and proud transgender girl and knew that from a young age, driving her to come out when she was in the sixth grade. She was quite close to her mother, who always supported her. At the time of the incident, Nikki lived at a friend’s place in the local area, but she left home to meet a date she met online during the late hours of June 5, 2019.
Nikki’s friends last saw her alive around 5 am on June 6 when she was at a friend’s house before heading out again. The 17-year-old was reported missing the same day when loved ones couldn’t get a hold of her and even her social media platforms showed no signs of activity. After all, she always shared her experiences with friends, family, and followers alike and thus had thousands of supporters online. About six months later, in December, a hiker found a human skull in a wooded area around Washington’s Larch Mountain. Soon, officials found more human remains, and they were confirmed to be Nikki’s based on the clothing and jewelry located. There was also a knotted phone charger cable near the body, confirming that she was strangled to death.
Who Killed Nikki Kuhnhausen?
The truth is, at the dumpsite, investigators had found hair extensions they believed to be Nikki’s tangled up in the phone charger cable. A hyoid bone was also found within this mess of hair and wire. But before her remains were found, the authorities had already worked hard to identify the “date” she’d met. From Nikki’s friends, they learned he was an older Russian guy, following which a look into her Snapchat account helped them identify him as David Bogdanov.
Snapchat exchanges between the two showed they had plans to meet on the night of June 5. However, despite the investigators’ repeated efforts, they could only get a hold of David for an interview in October 2019. At the time, he admitted to meeting Nikki and inviting her to join him and his brothers at a bar, only to later drive her to a friend’s house to pick up her phone. He added that when they were in his vehicle outside his brother’s house, she revealed she was assigned male at birth, following which he asked her to get out and she left on foot.
David stated that he was shocked, disturbed, and uncomfortable at the revelation but still went about as normal. However, phone records placed him in the Larch Mountain area during the early morning hours of June 6. Furthermore, his call history made it clear he was looking for a sexual encounter on that fateful night. He was thus charged with murder, with the prosecutors believing he killed Nikki in a fit of rage once they started getting intimate and he learned of her history. Though at his trial in August 2021, he claimed to have slain her in self-defense.
David actually testified that Nikki had lunged for a gun in the front of his car following the revelation and him asking her to get out, so he had to strangle her to protect himself. This was something he had not previously mentioned to the police officers. The prosecution claimed that David killed Nikki after finding out she was a transgender teen. In the end, the jury found him guilty of murdering Nikki and handed down a lengthy prison sentence.
Read More: Where is David Bogdanov Now?