Man sentenced to life for killing of transgender teen

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (AP) — A man has been ordered to spend life in prison without parole for killing a transgender teen whose burned remains were found three years ago in southwest Missouri.

Andrew Vrba, now 21, expressed sorrow Friday before he was sentenced in Greene County for first-degree murder and armed criminal action for the killing of 17-year-old Ally Steinfeld, the Springfield News-Leader reports.

“I regret it every day,” he said. “I promise you I’m sorry.”

Steinfeld had been missing for weeks when her remains were found in September 2017 in the Texas County town of Cabool, a rural area about 70 miles (115 kilometers) east of Springfield, Missouri. Authorities say the crime wasn’t motivated by Steinfeld’s gender identity.

The death penalty was taken off the table when Vrba agreed to a bench trial before a judge without a jury. Prosecutors said that is also what Steinfeld’s family wanted.

Steinfeld’s mom Amber Boswell sobbed during the hearing, saying she misses her child every day. “It turned my whole world into a pure nightmare,” Boswell said.

Three other co-defendants have already pleaded guilty and been sentenced for their roles in disposing of and hiding Steinfeld’s remains.