Murdered for Being Transgender: Pa. Woman Was Found Dead Near River, and Warrant Is Out for Suspect

The killing of Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells was one of at least 28 transgender homicides this year

Dominique “Rem’mie” Fells loved clothes, make-up and making her own wigs.

“She was a gentle soul,” says Celena Morrison, Executive Director of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs.

Fells, 27, was found dead in the Schuylkill River in June, the victim of a homicide. She had been beaten and stabbed. Her severed legs were discovered nearby.

Her death was one of at least 28 transgender homicides this year, according to the data from the National Center for Transgender Equality. Last year there were 26 homicides, but experts say more deaths may go uncounted because police and family members don't accurately report the victim's gender.

“Last year was a devastating year — and I never imagined that this year would end up being quite a repeat,” says Mariah Moore, National Organizer at the Transgender Law Center. “Each time one of our sisters is dropped from us, it makes it a little bit harder to get up in the morning. Your mind is constantly racing and you’re thinking, as a black trans woman, ‘Will it be me today?’"

Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells
Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells.
Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells
Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells. Facebook

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Police identified Fell’s suspected murderer as 36-year-old Akhenaton Jones. A warrant was issued for his arrest — but to date, he has not been apprehended.

Akhenaton Jones

Because Fells was well-liked and well-known in the community, people are coming forward to share their stories and help catch her killer. They are sharing emails, texts and information, Morrison says, adding that this is uncommon because "trans women tend to carry their secrets and hold their secrets.”

Philadelphia LGBTQ activist Kendall Stephens became close to Fells when Fells was living at Morris House, an in-patient treatment center for Trans people.

“Rem’mie exploded into my life,” Kendall tells PEOPLE. “She was just a vivacious, colorful live-out-loud person.”

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She remembers Fells working the runway at a fashion show held at the William Way LGBT Community center.

“She really captivated the entire room, it was all eyes on Rem’mie,” Stephens says.

Stephens mentored Fells and encouraged Fells to enroll in community college and steer her life in a new direction.

“Her life was cut short before she could see her dreams realized,” Stephens says. “She had many dreams, many hopes, and many desires. And she was taken away from us so horrifically.”

If you have any information about Fells' murder, or if you have seen suspect Akhenaton Jones, please contact the Philadelphia Police tip line at 215.686.TIPS (8477).

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