Philidelphia police have launched an investigation into the murder of Dominique Rem’mie Fells, a transgender, African-American woman. She was 27.
Investigators pulled Fells’ body from the Schuylkill River on June 9. Her legs had been severed and her body stuffed into a suitcase. Law enforcement officials also report that the body showed evidence of stab wounds and blunt force trauma to the head.
ABC News now reports that police have issued a warrant for the arrest of an acquaintance of Fells named Akhenaton Jones, 36. Eyewitnesses identified Jones after seeing him fighting with Fells several days before her murder. NBC reports that police found blood and a cutting tool in Jones’ home.
“She was a person who could light up a room even when she was being quiet,” Fells’ father told NBC10. “The one thing that stood out about her is she did her own thing with confidence, which as a family we all embraced.”
The investigation into Fells’ murder comes at a sensitive time for both the African-American and transgender communities. As worldwide protests over police brutality and systemic racism continue, activists point out that African-American transgender women are at a disproportionately higher risk for violence and murder. Statistics provided by the Human Rights Campaign illustrate that 26 transgender women were murdered in 2019, a shocking 91% of them African-American.
“Black Trans Lives Matter,” HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative Tori Cooper said in a statement. “In the same week countless people across the globe stand up for racial injustice, in the same week we honor the 49 victims of the Pulse massacre in Orlando, in the same week a billionaire author spouts transphobic rhetoric to millions – in this same week, we have lost two more Black transgender women to the same fate most of us worry about every day. Say their names. Dominique ‘Rem’mie’ Fells. Dominique ‘Rem’mie’ Fells. Dominique ‘Rem’mie’ Fells. Riah Milton. Riah Milton. Riah Milton. Continue to say the names of every transgender and gender non-conforming person stolen from this Earth. Don’t wait until we are all gone to speak up. This fight belongs to us all.”