Driver arrested as police at scene of car crash find dead body in the back of her car (2024)

The woman found dead by police in the back seat of a car at a crash scene was a DJ who had suffered a cut to her neck and had been wrapped in a blanket, bed sheets and a mattress, police have said.

Liara Tsai, 35, was discovered in the back of a sub-compact car that had crashed on a highway in Minnesota on Saturday morning. Police arriving at the scene quickly began to suspect she had not died as the result of the crash.

The driver of the car, 32-year-old Margot Lewis, from Iowa, is being held on a $1 million bond on suspicion of interference with a dead body. She has reportedly refused to respond audibly to officers, saying she has taken a “spiritual vow of silence” and will only communicate through sign language or writing.

Tsai was discovered wrapped in a bed sheet, blanket, futon-style mattress, and a tarp, on a folded-down seat in the back of the car after the vehicle she was in was somehow involved in an accident on Interstate 90 in Olmstead County. Police who made the chilling discovery found she was “cold to the touch,” according to a search warrant affidavit and court documents seen by the Star Tribune.

Investigators also found that there was a “large wound” on the side of her neck near the carotid artery.

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

Officers realized the woman’s death was “suspicious,” and that it was “immediately apparent that the death was not a result of the motor vehicle accident,” the police said in a press release on Monday.

Lewis, who police said was driving the car, was outside the vehicle being tended to by a passerby when officers arrived. She had been speeding when she hit a guardrail that surrounded the pillars of an overpass, court documents obtained by the Star Tribune stated.

She was taken by Eyota Ambulance Service to a hospital, where she was medically cleared and subsequently transferred to the Adult Detention Center, before being arrested and charged with Interference with a Dead Body. She is being held on a $1 million unconditional bond and is due back in court on July 5.

In an autopsy report provided to The Independent from the Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner’s Office, Tsai’s death was caused by multiple sharp force injuries and the manner was listed as a homicide.

No one has yet been charged with causing her death.

A Minneapolis police report filed on Saturday night also classified Tsai’s death as a case of murder, noting that the weapon involved was a knife or other “cutting instrument,” the Star Tribune reported.

After news broke that Tsai, who worked as a DJ, was the person found dead in the car, her family has been mourning the loss of the woman who they said moved to the Twin Cities for the strong transgender community and to pursue her love of music.

Kristen Sewell, Tsai’s sister, told KTTC that the accident that led to the discovery of her body was “divine intervention, hands down.”

“Someone just took another person who was that light away,” Sewell said. “She was a phenomenal DJ... talented and drew a crowd.”

Minneapolis Police Chief Brian O’Hara said that the sheriff’s office, the Minneapolis Police Department, and the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension were asked to conduct a welfare check at Tsai’s address. They executed a search warrant and found “a scene indicating violence” inside, according to ABC 6 News.

Driver arrested as police at scene of car crash find dead body in the back of her car (3)

Steven Seuling, a friend of Tsai’s who stages events and hires Tsai as a DJ, told the Star Tribune that the two of them spoke Friday ahead of an event Tsai was booked for on Sunday.

"She said a friend was coming to stay with her," Seuling told the outlet. "I checked in with her by text on Saturday, but she didn’t answer, which was very unusual for her."

When Tsai, who Seuling described as a “community and trans activist,” did not turn up to play, he said that "we were really freaking out. It was very unlike her not to be there.”

In a statement to ABC 6 News, Tsai’s family said their sister’s death was “senseless and unfathomable.”

“Her life, like every human life, matters. She was a beautiful soul who wanted nothing more than to show kindness through her life and music,” they wrote. “We loved her immensely and our family has no words for the pain this has caused for us and the vast community of friends who had the honor of knowing her.”

Driver arrested as police at scene of car crash find dead body in the back of her car (2024)

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