Texts Show Teens Had ‘Everything Planned Out’ to Murder Trans Girl
Ally Steinfeld said she was ‘proud to be me’ when she came out this year. Despite being stabbed in the genitals, police say her death wasn’t a hate crime.
Isis Schauer sent her boyfriend Andrew Vrba a frantic Facebook message three days after the murder.
“Sam is asking me about Joey what do I say??” she wrote, according to a police report reviewed by The Daily Beast. “Babe what did you do??!?!”
Schauer and Vrba, both 18, were talking about Ally Steinfeld, a 17-year-old transgender girl who had previously gone by the name Joey. None of three are charged with a hate crime, as prosecutors say Steinfeld’s killers were not motivated by Steinfeld’s transgender identity.
“I would say murder in the first-degree is all that matters,” prosecutor Parke Stevens Jr. said told the Associated Press. “That is a hate crime in itself.”
Steinfeld disappeared from her home in rural Cabool, Missouri in early September. Weeks later police found her remains buried in a chicken coop outside a trailer.
Schauer and Vrba have been arrested for the murder, along with Steinfeld’s Briana Calderas, 24, and their friend James Grigsby, 25.
Their county sheriff’s office found Steinfeld’s body had been dismembered, burned, and placed in a bag in a chicken coop. Her genitals stabbed and eyes gouged out.
Steinfeld had lived inside that same trailer, along with Calderas, Schauer, and Vrba, her mother told the Associated Press.
Steinfeld came out as transgender in May, and began dating Calderas several months later.
“I am proud to be me I am proud to be trans,” Steinfeld wrote in an Instagram post shortly after coming out. “I am beautiful I don’t care what people think.”
Tensions in the trailer were high in the days before Steinfeld’s death, according to a police probable cause statement reviewed by The Daily Beast. Schauer told investigators that Steinfeld and Vrba had “been in a physical altercation on September 3.” Steinfeld left the home and was never seen from again, Schauer told police.
But Steinfeld hadn’t run away — she was murdered two days after the alleged fight, police say. In subsequent interviews with investigators, Schauer, Vrba, Calderas, and Grigsby revealed details of a plot to kill their teenage friend and dispose of her body, fight, police reports show.
Police say Vrba told them he “had to kill” Steinfeld and at least two of his friends knew of the plan. In an interview with police, Calderas said she had known of Vrba’s plans, but that she did not want Steinfeld killed. But Vrba and Schauer told police that Calderas had also been on board with the murder, and that she had even discussed it with them “several days prior to Steinfeld’s death.”
Vrba told police he planned to poison Steinfeld, but when she refused to drink a lethal substance on September 5, Vrba took out a knife and stabbed her to death.
After the murder, Vrba allegedly boasted to Calderas and Schauer that he had “gouged Steinfeld’s eyes out” and stabbed her in the genitals multiple times, both women told investigators. Grigsby told police that Vrba had “tortured” Steinfeld. “He had bragged about the murder and went into detail on how the murder took place,” a police report said.
All four friends then allegedly tried to destroy evidence of the monstrous crime. The women allegedly went to two Wal-Mart stores to pick up items that would help them burn a body. Then they allegedly picked up Grigsby at his home, and drove him to the trailer where he told police he “placed what appeared to be burnt human remains into a plastic sack that he hid near a shed,” police said. Someone tried scrubbing blood from the trailer with multiple cleaning agents, which failed to wash the bloodstains from the carpet and the underlying floor.
Sometime after the killing, Vrba allegedly boasted of it to another friend named Sam.
On September 8, three days after the killing, Schauer sent Vrba a series of panicked messages.
“Sam is asking me about Joey what do I say??” Schauer wrote, according to police.
Schauer appeared distraught over Vrba’s conversation with Sam.
“Babe what did you do??!?! You were supposed to stick to the story. You even gave her a date?????”Vrba berated Schauer for talking to Sam.
“We had everything planned out,” he wrote. “Quit talking to Sam.” And then, ominously, he added, “Tell b to check the ladder.”
“B” may have referred to Briana Calderas, who lived in the trailer with Steinfeld, Vrba, and Schauer. When questioned by police, Calderas eventually told them where to find the Steinfeld’s cell phone and the knife that had been used to kill her.
All three alleged accomplices have been charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action, and abandonment of a corpse, while Grigsby has been charged with abandonment of a corpse.
Steinfeld is believed to be the 21st transgender person in the U.S. murdered in 2017.
“I want my baby,” Steinfeld’s mother wrote on Facebook. “Praying.”