Dominique Rem’mie Fells of Philadelphia was one of two Black trans women found murdered last week, along with Riah Milton of Ohio. The news of their deaths helped to spark a wave of protests in support of Black trans lives.
Fells’ body was found in the Schuylkill River on June 8. Police began investigating her death as a homicide. On Tuesday, police served an arrest warrant in connection with the death, saying they discovered a weapon inside the suspect’s home.
Though NBC Philadelphia reported that the suspect has not yet been identified, other outlets say the suspect is Akhenaton Jones, an acquaintance of Fells. Police say they believe he’s currently out of the Philadelphia area. Pennsylvania officials have vowed that Fells, whose body was gruesomely dismembered, will have justice.
“Rem’mie’s life was cut short,” Kendall Stephens, a friend, told Philly Voice. “She lived her truth so loud that you could hear her a mile away.”
Fells was a dancer and artist who dreamed of becoming a fashion designer; before her death, she’d been planning on going back to school. Like all too many Black trans women, her life was cut short.
“We’re devastated,” Stephens said. “We live with a constant fear of being assaulted and being murdered before our time. It seems to be a person of trans experience of color, that’s like death sentence.”
The Pennsylvania Commission on LGBTQ Affairs reflected on Fells’ death in a statement.
“In Pennsylvania, we have already lost so many Black and brown trans people due to violence and transphobia, and, make no mistake, these are hate crimes and should be categorized as such,” the heads of the commission said.
“Our society is collectively responsible for every death in the Black trans community, and we must continue to demand to be recognized, to be protected, and to have these hate crimes against our community eradicated.”