Body of trans activist and DJ discovered wrapped in bloody sheets in car after crash

a candle with a trans hue

A woman has been charged with second-degree murder after the remains of a trans activist were found in her car following a crash.

Margot G Lewis, of New Liberty, in Iowa, was charged in relation to the death of Liara Tsai, the StarTribune reported. The pair were reported to have previously been in a romantic relationship.

Initially, 32-year-old Lewis was arrested on a charge of felony interference with a dead body but was subsequently charged with two counts of the second-degree murder of Tsai, 35, one intentional and one unintentional.

Tsai was a DJ and activist within the trans community and served as a crisis counsellor and volunteer for The Trevor Project and Suicide Hotline. She moved to Minneapolis from Iowa just six weeks before her death and was due to play a show in Brooklyn at the time of her death, which would have been her biggest gig.

Local news outlets reported that Lewis was arrested at around 7am on 22 June on the eastbound side of Interstate 90, south of the city of Eyota, about 85 miles from Minneapolis.

A deputy who attended the scene of the crash inspected the vehicle – which belonged to Tsai – and opened the car’s passenger-side back door, allegedly finding the body wrapped in a bed sheet, blanket, futon-style mattress and tarpaulin.

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Her remains were described in court documents as “cold to the touch” and there was “dried blood soaked on the bedding wrapped around the body” with a large wound on her neck.

“It was apparent [to the deputy] that the death… was not a result of the traffic crash,” the complaint stated.

Lewis appeared in court on 25 June and is due to appear again on Friday (5 July).

‘A void in her community that will never be filled’

Following news of Tsai’s death, her friends and loved ones called her “the most fearless person [they’d] ever met” and someone with “an incredibly powerful energy”.

Former partner Olivia Anderson told CBS News: “I cannot express enough her capacity for love. She was always completely herself and wanted to inspire everyone around her to always be their most true and authentic selves.”

Steven Seuling, who had hired Tsai, said:” She was very much more than just a DJ”.

In a statement, LGBQ+ organisation OutFront Minnesota said: “Liara was a DJ and producer, had served as a crisis counsellor and was a beloved member of the trans community here. We mourn her loss and urge a full investigation [into] her death. We extend our deepest sympathies to those closest to her and to all who found connection through her music.

“We hope Liara will be remembered for the music she created and the joy she brought to community spaces.”

Tori Cooper, the director of community engagement for the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Transgender Justice Initiative, said Tsai’s death “leaves a void in her community that will never be filled”, adding: “Her activism and work as an artist and DJ touched many, and our hearts are with those who called her a friend or chosen family.”

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