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Why KGW's 'Should Be Alive' podcast explores Nikki Kuhnhausen's murder

We have followed Nikki’s story since her disappearance, up through the trial of the man who was convicted in her murder.

VANCOUVER, Wash. — Nikki Kuhnhausen was just 17 years old when she was murdered. She didn’t get the chance to celebrate her 18th birthday, or fulfill her dream of becoming a makeup artist to the stars. She didn’t get to finish high school or experience college life with her friends.

That’s because in 2019, Nikki’s life was cut short by a man she had just met. He strangled Nikki after discovering she was transgender. Sadly, that’s a fear many transgender women and teens like Nikki face - far too often. And that’s why we wanted to tell Nikki’s story in our true-crime investigative podcast Should Be Alive. We hope to raise awareness about a growing trend of violence against transgender people and inspire thoughtful conversation around an important topic.

Over the past year, our team has conducted dozens of interviews with Nikki’s family, friends, investigators and prosecutors. We didn’t just want to learn about the crime and the investigation that resulted in a conviction, but about the way Nikki lived her life and people she impacted along the way.

New episodes of Should Be Alive drop every Wednesday starting May 25. Listen on your favorite podcast apps including Apple PodcastsSpotify, Amazon Music, and Stitcher.

Credit: KGW

RELATED: Into Thin Air | Should Be Alive, episode 1

This case was also important for us to cover because of the impact Nikki’s legacy will have on future families seeking justice. Her murder led to legislation in Washington state known as “Nikki’s Law.” It prohibits the so-called “panic” defense: a legal strategy where a defendant blames their actions on the discovery of a victim’s sexual orientation or gender identity. They claim it not only explains—but excuses—a loss of self-control and the subsequent assault or murder. The “panic” defense has been banned in 17 states and has been introduced, but not passed, in 12 others.  

Should Be Alive is a six-part series, with new episodes launching each Wednesday beginning May 25th.

Listen to episode one of Should Be Alive: 

Watch the Should Be Alive video trailer:

RELATED: A timeline of Vancouver teen Nikki Kuhnhausen’s disappearance, suspect arrest | Should Be Alive

RELATED: WATCH | Trailer for KGW's new true crime podcast 'Should Be Alive'

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