An Iowa woman was charged Tuesday after a Minneapolis murder victim's body was found in a car she was driving when she crashed on a southern Minnesota interstate over the weekend.

Margot G. Lewis, 32, of New Liberty, Iowa, was charged in Olmsted County District Court in Rochester with felony interference with a dead body in connection with the death of 35-year-old Liara Tsai.

The criminal complaint makes no mention of whether Lewis or someone else killed Tsai, who worked as a techno-electronic DJ at various events and also was active on behalf of the trans community.

Lewis, who was arrested about 7 a.m. Saturday at the scene of the crash on eastbound Interstate 90 south of Eyota, appeared in court Tuesday morning and remains jailed in lieu of $1 million bail. Court records do not yet list an attorney for her. She is due back in court July 5.

The Southern Minnesota Regional Medical Examiner's Office identified Tsai on Tuesday as the victim but has yet to disclose how she was killed. A Minneapolis police officer's report filed Saturday night classified Tsai's death as a case of murder, noting that the weapon involved was a knife or other "cutting instrument." The complaint noted that a deputy at the scene saw large wound to Tsai's neck near the carotid artery.

Minneapolis police became involved in the case Saturday afternoon when the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension requested that officers do a welfare check at Tsai's home in the 700 block of E. 16th Street. Officers searched the residence and saw "a scene indicating violence," a statement from police read.

According to the complaint and a related court document:

A deputy sent to the crash scene saw the subcompact car — owned by Tsai — in the center median and Lewis sitting in a folding chair that was provided by a bystander. The deputy determined that Lewis was speeding when she hit a guardrail that surrounded the pillars of an overpass.

In a search warrant affidavit filed by the State Patrol seeking permission to inspect the car's various data recording devices, a patrol sergeant wrote that evidence at the crash scene indicated that Lewis "traveled for quite some time [in the median] prior to striking the pillar barrier. The vehicle did not appear to make any maneuvers to prevent the crash."

The deputy opened the car's passenger-side back door and saw Tsai's body on the folded-down seat. It was wrapped in a bed sheet, blanket, futon-style mattress and a tarp. She was cold to the touch.

"It was apparent [to the deputy] that the death … was not a result of the traffic crash," the complaint read.

Upon her being booked into jail, Lewis "did not respond audibly to detention staff or investigators," the complaint continued. Court filings Tuesday afternoon disclosed that she has asked for assistance from a sign language interpreter. A Rochester television station reported that Lewis only communicated with her defense counsel "via writing or sign language, having taken a spiritual vow of silence, according to the attorneys present."

Steven Seuling, who stages events and would hire Tsai as a DJ, said the two of them spoke on Friday ahead of her being scheduled to work an event Sunday at the Pourhouse in downtown Minneapolis.

"She said a friend was coming to stay with her," Seuling said of his friend for the past six years or so and added that she moved to Minneapolis from Iowa last winter. "I checked in with her by text on Saturday, but she didn't answer, which was very unusual for her."

When the time came for her to play [Sunday] and she didn't show up, "we were really freaking out. It was very unlike her not to be there," he said.

Seuling described Tsai as "community and trans activist. She was very, very much more than just a DJ."

Police are asking anyone with information about the death to call CrimeStoppers at 800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips can also be submitted at All tips are anonymous, and information leading to an arrest and conviction could result in a reward.