Police believe the suspect, David Bogdanov, was ‘enraged’ at the revelation
VANCOUVER — The circumstances surrounding the murder of a transgender Vancouver teen became a bit clearer on Wednesday.
The body of 18-year-old Nikolas Kuhnhausen, who was born male but identified as female and went by the name Nikki Fox, was located Dec. 7 in east Clark County off a logging road on Larch Mountain when a citizen located a human skull. Detectives later recovered more bones, as well as clothing and jewelry in the area, scattered across the rugged landscape by animals.
Court documents show Vancouver Police believe 25-year-old David Bogdanov, also of Vancouver, strangled Kuhnhausen to death, then dumped the body in the remote area after she admitted to being biologically male.
Bogdanov was arrested on Dec. 17 and charged with second degree murder. He was arraigned Wednesday in Clark County court and held on no bail. A bail hearing was scheduled for Jan. 2.
Vancouver Police began investigating Kuhnhausen’s disappearance on June 10, when her mother, Lisa Woods, said Nikki hadn’t called her since the evening of June 5, which was highly unusual.
On June 13, detectives interviewed two friends Nikki had been staying with, who told them she had been in contact with an “older Russian male” via Snapchat, using one of the friend’s smartphones. She left on June 5 and returned early the next morning wearing a man’s coat and carrying a bottle of vodka. She left a short time later, telling her friends she was meeting up with the Russian male again.
Detectives issued an emergency request and follow-up search warrant for Nikki’s Snapchat account on June 26 and were able to confirm the story her friends had told. Two days later detectives attempted to contact Bogdanov at the home of his brother, Artur, who told them he had never met Nikki and was unaware of his brother’s whereabouts on the dates in question.
They also contacted Bogdanov’s other brother, Stanislav, who also said he couldn’t recall Nikki, or David bringing her to his house. Both brothers were given contact information and asked to tell Bogdanov to call detectives. Stanislav also gave them updated contact information for David and a message was left by investigators.
In September, Bogdanov finally responded to a detective’s message via Snapchat, and an interview was set up for Oct. 2.
During that interview, Bogdanov claimed he had encountered Nikki on Main Street in Vancouver and invited her to join he and his brothers at a bar. He said he gave her his coat and a bottle of vodka, which she kept. He said the two agreed to meet up again later that night, and that Stanislav picked them up in his van, then drove to Artur’s house. He claimed that they were talking outside Artur’s residence when Nikki admitted to being biologically male.
According to the probable cause statement, Bogdanov told detectives the admission left him “shocked,” “uncomfortable,” and “really, really disturbed,” so he asked Nikki to get out of the van. He said she walked away on foot and he never saw her again.
He also claimed to have been “drinking a lot” that night, and said he “took off” and went to work at his brother’s shop in Portland shortly after Nikki left.
Sometime after that interview in October, detectives were able to fully analyze phone records obtained via warrant on July 31. They revealed a much different story, including calls to an adult video store around 4 a.m. on June 6, followed by numerous calls to female escort ads, leading detectives to believe Bogdanov had been seeking a sexual encounter that night.
Shortly after 8 a.m., Bogdanov’s phone shows him in the area of Artur’s house. By 9 a.m., he was pinged in the area of Larch Mountain and Camp Bonneville, before returning to Artur’s house after 10 a.m.
Armed with that evidence, Vancouver Police Lieutenant Tom Ryan says they attempted to contact Bogdanov again.
“We attempted contact with him yesterday, and he declined to give any further statements,” said Ryan at a press conference shortly after Bogdanov’s arraignment. “At that point he was arrested for second degree murder.”
As for whether that charge could be upgraded, potentially to include a hate crime, investigators said that would be up to the Clark County Prosecutor’s office.
“The detectives put the charge on the piece of paper that they think the probable cause supports at the time,” said Major Crimes Sergeant Jeff Kipp. “As the investigation continues to unfold, new evidence may be obtained. The prosecutor may review it and think there’s a more appropriate charge.”
The probable cause documents show detectives believe Kuhnhausen and Bogdanov had some sort of sexual encounter the night they first met, and that Bogdanov “became enraged” upon learning that Nikki was biologically male.
“The information we have leads us to believe that they had a kind of a hookup meeting and that it wasn’t targeting Nikki for a particular reason,” said Sgt. Kipp. “And now, this is where it gets the legal aspects of ‘more than a moment in time’ for premeditation, so that’s what the prosecutor looks at.”
The other element of the case still being looked at is whether Bogdanov’s brothers could face charges for allegedly lying about knowing where he was, or about meeting Nikki during the night in question.
“The conflicting statements certainly raised some concern about who knew what, and when they knew it,” said Kipp. “So that part of the investigation is still ongoing. And I’ll leave it at that.”
Community invited to memorial service
Kuhnhausen’s family has invited members of the public to remember Nikki at a memorial service on Friday at the Vancouver United Church of Christ at 1220 NE 68th Street in Vancouver.
The memorial is being sponsored, in part, by National Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation (NWCAVE). Kuhnhausen’s mother plans to speak, along with members of the LGBTQ community.
More information is available on the event’s Facebook page.
Those wishing to donate to help cover Nikki’s funeral expenses can do so through NWCAVE here.