Father speaks out after transgender daughter found dismembered in Western Pa.

Tuesday, July 9, 2024
Father speaks out after transgender daughter found dismembered
Father speaks out after transgender daughter found dismembered in Western Pa.

CLARK BOROUGH, Pennsylvania (WPVI) -- A grieving father is speaking out for the first time after the dismembered remains of his 14-year-old transgender daughter were found in Western Pennsylvania.

"I need to find out where my son passed from this world. I've always come through here, so I can be closer to Pauly," said Paul Likens.

Referring to Pauly as his son, Paul Likens says he spent days searching the park in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, where his child was reportedly last seen.

Authorities say the teen went missing on June 22. Three days later, Pauly's remains were recovered around an area lake.

An autopsy revealed the cause of death was sharp force trauma to the head, and the manner of death was a homicide.

DaShawn Watkins, 29, is facing murder charges in connection with the teen's death.

READ MORE: Western Pennsylvania man accused of killing, dismembering transgender teen

Surveillance footage, social media records and cellular phone records found that Pauly appeared "to be on the phone and waiting to meet someone near the canoe launch area," state police said.

Officials say footage also captured Watkins making several trips out of his apartment carrying multiple bags, and driving to his apartment in the vehicle seen near the crime scene.

Multiple locations in Watkins' apartment tested positive in a preliminary blood test, according to the Pennsylvania State Police.

The family says instead of celebrating Pauly's birthday, which was this past Saturday, they're now planning a funeral.

"The world lost a little shine, the day Pauly was taken from us," said the victim's father.

Watkins will next appear in court on July 17. He was denied bail and has not entered a plea.

The victim's family and LGBTQ activists say the killing was a hate crime, but those charges have not been brought yet.

Governor Josh Shapiro expressed his support for her family and is also advocating for state laws to treat hate-based crimes against LGBTQ members the same way other hate crimes are treated.

ABC News contributed to this report.