Philadelphia police seek killer after transgender woman found dead near Schuylkill River

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Philadelphia police are now asking for the public's help solving the grisly murder of a transgender woman.

Police said her body was mutilated, then thrown in the Schuylkill River in Southwest Philadelphia.

She was found just before 7 p.m. Monday near Bartram's Garden.

Friends have identified the victim as 27-year-old Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells.

Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells



"It's a risk to be to living in our truth, and live who we want to be and authentically," said transgender activist Tatyana Woodard.

Woodard said she is fielding calls from people within their community who are in fear after hearing about Fells' murder.

"It's a sensitive time in the world right now, period," said Woodard. "Right now as a black trans woman I'm upset."

"I don't think it's enough attention on when things happen like this," she continued.

Police say Fells was found with stab wounds and both of her legs were severed.

Some close to Fells told Action News off-camera that, in the days before her murder, she was seen fighting with a male acquaintance. Police have not released any details about the investigation, including if they think this was a hate crime.

Woodard said she hopes, if anything, this incident sheds more light on how the black transgender community is treated.

"She was a person - somebody's sister, daughter, somebody's friend. It shouldn't matter how she identified. The person should always matter," Woodard said.

If this is determined to be a hate crime, stronger charges could be applied.

The City's LGBT Office released Information for community members:

"For anyone in the community who is experiencing grief, sadness, and pain in response to this sudden loss, the Office is working to coordinate a virtual community grief session. The Office of LGBT Affairs Facebook page will share event information."

Anyone with information regarding Fells' murder can contact the Philadelphia Police Department by dialing 911, calling the PPD Anonymous Tipline at (215) 686-TIPS, or submitting a tip via the Philadelphia police website.

Anyone who is not comfortable contacting the police can get in touch with the Office of LGBT for facilitation.

Full statement from Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs:

"It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the recent passing of a member of our LGBTQ family. The pain of such a loss is always difficult, but it is especially deep as we are in the midst of Pride month-a season typically filled with joy and celebration for many in our community.

"As thousands take to the streets to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, it is critical we remember that this includes Black trans lives. Dominique Rem'mie Fells' life mattered.
"We are reminded with this, and countless other painful losses-especially within our transgender communities-that there is much left to do until we achieve full equality, respect, and support for us all. The murder of transgender people-especially those of color-is truly an epidemic, and a crisis that we cannot afford to allow to persist any further.

"We are committed to ensuring that acts of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred are never tolerated in the city of Philadelphia. Know that we see you, we grieve with you, and we join you in solidarity at this time of great sadness.
"Please join the Office as we extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of Dominique Rem'mie. Let us uplift her memory together."

Information for Community Members: For anyone in the community who is experiencing grief, sadness, and pain in response to this sudden loss, the Office is working to coordinate a virtual community grief session. The Office of LGBT Affairs Facebook page will share event information.

Reporting Information Connected to the Case: Members of the Homicide Unit are working diligently to identify and apprehend the person or persons responsible for Dominique Rem'mie Fells' murder. Anyone with information regarding Rem'mie's case can contact the Philadelphia Police Department by dialing 911, calling the PPD Anonymous Tipline at (215) 686-TIPS, or submitting a tip via the PPD website (phillypolice.com). Anyone who is not comfortable contacting the police can get in touch with the Office of LGBT for facilitation.


(Note: The body was originally identified as that of a man shortly after the discovery. We've updated this article after learning more about the person's identity.)
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