Murder Charges Filed After Trans Advocate Found Dead In Car's Backseat

An Iowa woman was charged with murder on Wednesday after her ex, a trans advocate and DJ, was discovered dead in the back seat of her car with an apparent stab wound in her neck, following a crash.

Margot G. Lewis, 32, was charged with two counts of second-degree murder, intentional and unintentional, in connection to the death of Liara Tsai, 35, according to a probable cause statement obtained by HuffPost.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived to the scene of a one-car crash in Olmsted County, Minnesota, on June 22, per the document. They found Lewis, the driver of the crashed vehicle, sitting on a lawn chair a bystander had given her, according to the probable cause. The responding deputies found Tsai’s corpse in the back seat of the car, wrapped in bloody bedding and a futon and covered with a tarp.

Liara Kaylee Tsai via Facebook
Liara Kaylee Tsai via Facebook Facebook

Further examination of the body found gaping puncture wounds in Tsai’s neck. It was apparent to deputies that Tsai’s death “was not a result of the traffic crash,” per the probable cause statement.

Lewis was taken to a local hospital for medical treatment following the crash, according to the statement. She was speeding at about 105 miles per hour when she crashed into highway guard rails, according to a reconstruction by the Minnesota State Patrol cited in the statement.

The responding deputies learned that the vehicle belonged to Tsai, and a search of the car found medical documents that indicated her address. Deputies also located a dog who was wandering the crash scene and learned from his microchip that he belonged to Tsai.

Deputies who executed a search of Tsai’s studio apartment in Minneapolis discovered the victim’s bed saturated in blood and a bloody plastic and metal object nearby, according to the affidavit. More blood was located in the bathroom, and detectives noted a missing knife from the kitchen’s butcher’s block.

The probable cause document described Tsai as the “former romantic partner” of Lewis.

Deputies said Lewis was uncooperative when she arrived at the sheriff’s office for questioning, and that she began pushing and kicking officers who were trying to collect evidence from her.

Tsai’s former spouse told law enforcement that Tsai and Lewis made plans to meet in the Minneapolis from June 21 to the 29, according to the probable cause. Surveillance footage from the night before the crash cited in the document showed Tsai picking up Lewis from the airport.

The document did not mention a motive for the alleged killing, but said Lewis indicated her relationship with Tsai was “sordid and emotionally challenging.”

Tsai had moved to Minneapolis from Iowa just weeks before her death. She worked as a DJ and had booked her biggest gig in New York over the weekend, according to CBS affiliate WCCO.

“She was just always completely herself, and she wanted to inspire everyone around her to always be their most true and authentic selves,” Olivia Anderson, a friend of Tsai, told the outlet.

The Trevor Project confirmed in a statement on Facebook that Tsai was member of its 988 Crisis Intervention team.

“She is remembered by our team for her empowering gentleness and remarkable ability to center the feelings and experiences of LGBTQ+ young people,” the organization wrote.

“We know that the constant news of transphobic violence around the country is often challenging for our community to bear. This particular news — happening to someone within our own Trevor community — hits especially close to home,” the statement read.

Need help? In the U.S., call 1-866-331-9474 or text “loveis” to 22522 for the National Dating Abuse Helpline.

If you or someone you know needs help, call or text 988 or chat for mental health support. Additionally, you can find local mental health and crisis resources at Outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention.