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Philly Police ID suspect charged with murder of transgender woman from York

Logan Hullinger
York Dispatch
Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells.

The Philadelphia Police Department on Tuesday announced charges against a man who they suspect murdered Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells, a transgender black woman from York.

Police are searching for 36-year-old Akhenaton Jones, of Philadelphia, on charges of murder, possession of an instrument of crime, tampering with evidence and abuse of corpse, according to a news release.

“The murder of Dominique Fells constituted yet another act of hate and violence against a member of the LGBTQ community,” said Philadelphia Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw.

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On June 8, police pulled the body of Fells, 27, from the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia.

Abdul-Aliy Muhammad, a co-founder of the Black and Brown Workers Cooperative, said Fells hailed from  York County, Tribune News Service reported.

Fells' legs were severed, and there was trauma to her head and face, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. The city's Medical Examiner’s Office last week ruled the death a homicide and said the woman had died from multiple stab wounds.

Protesters hold up signs commemorating Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells during a demonstration in support of black, transgender individuals in New York City on Sunday.

The department has released few other details, as the investigation is active and ongoing with the department's homicide Detectives Division.

A GoFundMe page was set up by Fells' sister Dior Edmonds with a $1,000 goal to help the family with her funeral expenses. As of Thursday afternoon, the campaign had  raised more than $123,000 in honor of Fells.

"Dominique who often went by the name Rem'mie was truly one of a kind," the GoFundMe page reads. "We can Assure all of you that we will not stop until her killers are found and justice is served accordingly."

Fell's family did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Jonathan VanDyke, a Brooklyn-based visual artist from York County who taught Fells while she attended the William Penn Performing Arts Institute, said she "left a huge impression."

VanDyke made short films and other projects that Fells and the rest of the class participated in, made possible by an artist-in-residence program funded through a grant.

"It's rare to work with someone that young who just really seems to have a real sense of themselves," he said. "That's not easy at that age, and knowing she was a black trans woman, a community that is disproportionately affected by prejudice and violence, I think she had a tremendous amount of courage.

Over the weekend, there were rallies nationwide in support of the black transgender community. They were held particularly in response to the murders of Fells and Riah Milton, of Cincinnati.

In photographs supplied to The York Dispatch, demonstrators were seen carrying signs with her name.

VanDyke and his partner also participated in the demonstrations, holding signs commemorating Fells, he said.

“I hope we can remember Dominique for her life, and not only for her death,” he said. “This is a loss for all of us. We need to make a world where things like this don’t happen to young, black trans people.”

— Logan Hullinger can be reached at lhullinger@yorkdispatch.com or via Twitter at @LoganHullYD.