Hundreds attend vigil for murdered teen

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle was one of more than 300 people who attended a vigil Friday evening at Vancouver United Church of Christ

VANCOUVER — “I knew in my stomach that something was wrong.”

Lisa Woods says June 6 was the first time in 17 years that her middle child hadn’t called to talk. Four days later she filed a missing persons report.

It would be another six months before she got the answer she had most been dreading. Human remains found on Larch Mountain in east Clark County belonged to Nikolas Kuhnhausen, a transgender teen who went by Nikki.

“This last six months has been the longest six months of our lives,” said Nikki’s step-father Vincent Woods. “It’s just been a roller coaster ride, up and down, playing in our minds ‘what has happened? Where is she?’”

Over 300 people packed Vancouver United Church of Christ on Friday for a vigil honoring Nikki Kuhnhausen. Photo by Chris Brown

Lisa Woods told the media before a memorial for Nikki on Friday at Vancouver United Church of Christ that she had held out hope that Nikki would return.

“I had made her a Christmas card that morning because I had hope that she was coming home,” said Woods. 

That was last week, hours before Vancouver Police Detective David Jensen delivered the devastating news.

Police have charged 25-year-old David Bogdanov of Vancouver with Murder II in Nikki’s death. The two reportedly had an encounter on the night of June 5.

Lisa Woods, Nikki Kuhnhausen’s mother, speaks to the media on Friday ahead of a vigil for the murdered teen. Photo by Chris Brown

Phone records place Bogdanov on Larch Mountain shortly after 10 a.m. on June 6, though he claims Nikki had left the van outside his brother’s house after revealing she was biologically male. Detectives believe Bogdanov strangled Kuhnhausen to death after learning she was transgender, possibly because something sexual had happened earlier.

“She did not deserve to have that hatred be the last thing she felt on this earth,” said Kuhnhausen’s mother. 

Vancouver Police have said the investigation is ongoing. They’ve asked for anyone who may have seen a white van on Larch Mountain in early June to give them a call.

But Michelle Bart, head of the Northwest Women’s Coalition Against Violence and Exploitation (NWCAVE), which helped put up flyers and organize search efforts for Nikki, went a step further.

Nikki Kuhnhausen’s family speak to the media on Friday. From left to right: Konrad Kuhnhausen, Ecko Kuhnhausen, Lisa Woods, Vincent Woods. Photo by Chris Brown

“We believe that this isn’t the only person that will be charged in the end on this case,” she said.

Police have said it appears Bogdanov’s brothers may have known more than they admitted to investigators, though no one else has been charged thus far.

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle was one of more than 300 people who attended the vigil Friday evening at Vancouver United Church of Christ. 

“There really are no words for the ugliness that happened to Nikki,” McEnerny-Ogle told the crowd. “Keep her spirit alive.”

“There’s been a lot of tragedy in our community this year,” said Vancouver City Councilor Ty Stober, holding back tears. “And it’s a great thing that so many people have come out here tonight.”

Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerney-Ogle comforts Lisa Woods, mother of slain teen Nikki Kuhnhausen during a vigil on Friday night. Photo by Chris Brown

Bart wrapped up the memorial service by reading words that Nikki had posted years ago to one of many social media accounts. Words, Bart said, that seem especially tragic in a place where people had gathered to mourn Nikki’s death.

“Life isn’t a game where you can restart,” Nikki had written. “Live life to the fullest and make it worth it.”

Lisa Woods speaks during a vigil for Nikki Kuhnhausen at Vancouver United Church of Christ. Photo by Chris Brown
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