North Adams Man Pleads Not Guilty in Murder of Wife
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A North Adams man pleaded not guilty on Monday morning in Northern Berkshire District Court of murdering his 42-year-old wife, Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien.
Mark S. Steele-Knudslien, 47, is accused of beating and stabbing his wife to death on Friday evening in their 107 Veazie St. home.
Judge Paul Vrabel ordered that he be held at the Berkshire County House of Correction without the right to bail. Steele-Knudslien will be back in court for a pre-trial hearing on Feb. 7, 2018.
According to police reports, Mark Steele-Knudslien admitted to police that he had hit Christa numerous times in the head with a hammer and stabbed her in the back with a large, stainless-steel kitchen knife.
Steele-Knudslien walked into the Adams Police Station at about 8:40 p.m. on Friday asking to speak privately with an officer. According to the report submitted by Trooper Ryan H. Dickinson of Berkshire Detective Unit, Steele-Knudslien told Officer Michael Wandrei that "he had done something very bad and that he should be put in handcuffs."
Steele-Knudslien was not cuffed at that point but was read his Miranda Rights, which he acknowledged, and then told the officers he had killed his wife. North Adams Police were alerted and entered the Veazie Street home, finding Christa's body wrapped in tarp and bedding and tied up in the basement.
The medical examiner's report found blunt force trauma and injuries consistent with defensive wounds; the knife stabbed into her back punctured her heart. Cause of death was blood loss.
During a recorded 29-minute interview, Steele-Knudslien told police that he and his wife had gotten into an argument the day before and that she often belittled him and called him names. On Friday, he "snapped," according to the report, and attacked her at about 5 p.m. on Friday in their living room.
After killing her, according to the report, he tried to clean up, took a shower and went out to buy alcohol. It's not clear why he approached the Adams Police but neither of the Steele-Knudsliens appear to be local to the area and they had lived more recently in Adams.
Christa Steele-Knudslien, nee Steele, is originally from Rochester, Minn., according to her Facebook page. She apparently lived in Western Massachusetts for some time, particularly the Springfield area, before moving to the Berkshires. One of her two Facebook pages shows images and posts about fixing up the Veazie Street house that she purchased in March 2017 under the name Christa L. Torres.
She also was a founder and chief executive officer of the Miss Trans New England Pageant, apparently as Christa Hilfers, and a founder of New England Trans Pride.
The Steele-Knudsliens were married April 15, 2017. In a Facebook post a few months before that, Christa had written that "My husband and I are going to try to work things out."
This is the first murder in the city since 2013.
Friends of Christa have started a GoFundMe to help defray funeral costs.
North Adams Man Charged With Murdering Wife
Update Jan. 7, 2018: The North Adams woman killed on Friday was stabbed and bludgeoned to death, according to an autopsy conducted on Sunday afternoon.
The preliminary results, according to Dr. Robert Welton, an associate medical examiner for the Office of the Chief Medical, indicate Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien died of loss of blood because of a stab wound to the torso; a contributing factor was multiple blunt-force trauma to the head.
Welton ruled the death a homicide.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A North Adams man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of his wife.
Mark S. Steele-Knudslien, 47, has been arrested and charged with one count of Murder. It is alleged that he killed his wife, 42-year-old Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien, whose body was found inside their Veazie Street North Adams home Friday evening.
An autopsy, to determine her cause of death, will be conducted at the Office of the Chief
Medical Examiner in Holyoke on Sunday.
Steele-Knudslien will be arraigned on the murder charge Monday morning in Northern Berkshire District Court. He is being held without the right to bail pending his arraignment.
The investigation is being conducted by State Police Detectives assigned to the District Attorney’s Office, members of the North Adams and Adams Police Departments and State Police Crime Scene Services Section.
Christa Leigh Steele-Knudslien is originally from Rochester, Minn., according to information on one of her two Facebook pages. She was active in the trans community and had produced the Miss Trans New England pageant. The Steele-Knudsliens were apparently married last April.
North Adams Woman Injured When Her SUV Hits House
The accident occurred about 9:51 a.m. on Thursday morning during the snowstorm. The driver was coming down Pleasant Street when her 2003 Ford Expedition began sliding. She was unable to control the SUV as it slid down the steep hill, across Church Street and into 193 Church.
"There was significant structural damage to the front porch and front entrance," said Sgt. James Burdick, but the building inspector determined the house itself was habitable.
The Ford took out one of the two Doric columns holding up the roof over the portico and severely damaged the other one. There also appeared to be damage to the building leading into the entryway.
Burdick said firefighters, police, building and wire inspectors and North Adams Ambulance Service responded to the scene. The driver incurred head injuries but no one else was injured. Church Street was closed for about 90 minutes until the scene was cleared.
Despite the poor weather conditions, only a few accidents had occurred by early afternoon, including single-car accident on Curran Highway with no injuries and a more serious one on Old State Street near Dorans around 2, according to scanner reports.
Burdick encouraged motorists, that if they had to be out in the weather, to drive slowly, make sure they kept appropriate distances from vehicles in front of them, and had the correct tires for driving.
Collision With Utility Pole Closes Section of State Road
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A section of State Road was closed down on Friday afternoon after a sport-utility vehicle took out a utility pole.
The single-vehicle crash occurred at about 2:30 p.m. near George Avenue, just west of Stop & Shop. The late-model charcoal Honda Pilot was headed east when the driver apparently veered across the westbound lane and struck the pole, breaking it and sending the transformer and connected wires into Route 2.
The driver was the only occupant of the Honda and was attended to by North Adams Ambulance personnel. The Honda incurred major damage to the front end and pieces of it were strewn across the road. It was taken from the scene by Cariddi Auto.
Both lanes were closed and traffic detoured over Protection and Ashton avenues, causing significant backups both ways. The roadway was not expected to open for some time as National Grid was being called in to replace the pole and wires.
North Adams Police and Fire responded. Police said the accident is under investigation.
No One Injured in North Adams Head-On Collision
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — A head-on collision on Thursday closed a section of Massachusetts Avenue for close to an hour.
No one was hurt in the noontime accident but both vehicles had to be towed from scene.
The accident occurred near 1406 Mass Ave., near the Blackinton Honor Roll shortly after noon. A westbound red older model Ford Explorer crossed the center line into the path of an eastbound gray Dodge Caravan, knocking the van up onto the banking on the north side of the road.
Lt. Jason Wood said driver of the Ford told police he had dropped his cup of coffee, distracting him as the van was approaching. The driver was cited for not having a driver's license.
Both vehicles incurred front-end damage on their passenger sides; the van's front end was crumpled. The Ford was removed by Mohawk Auto and the van by Dean's Towing.