Authorities have issued an arrest warrant for a man wanted in connection with the killing of Dominique Fells, a transgender woman whose body was discovered last week in the Schuylkill River.
Fells’ death, along with the killing of Riah Milton in Ohio, has drawn renewed attention to the violence against members of the transgender community.
Akhenaton “Akh” Jones, 36, whose last known address was on the 3900 block of Powelton Avenue in West Philadelphia, is being charged with murder, possession of an instrument of crime, tampering with evidence and abuse of corpse, police said.
“The murder of Dominique Fells constituted yet another act of hate and violence against a member of the LGBTQ community,” Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw said in a statement. “We are deeply disturbed by the facts of this case.”
“Our homicide detectives have worked tirelessly in identifying the person responsible for this horrific crime, and we are asking the public’s assistance in locating this dangerous offender,” she continued.
Police have not provided a motive for the murder.
According to multiple reports, Fells’ body was found dismembered June 8 in the river near Bartram’s Garden in Southwest Philadelphia, not far from where the 27-year-old Fells lived.
The city’s Office of LGBT Affairs, in a statement following her death, said it is important in the midst of Black Lives Matter protests to call attention to violence against transgender people of color. Fells was black.
“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,” the department said.
At least 26 transgender or gender non-conforming people were killed last year, the majority of whom were black transgender women, according to the Human Rights Campaign. The LGBTQ advocacy group has tracked 14 such murders this year.
Investigators described Jones, the suspect, as a 5-foot-9-inch black man who weighs around 180 pounds and has two Chinese characters tattooed on his right forearm.
He is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone with information about his whereabouts is asked to call 911; contact the PPD tip line at 215-686-8477; submit a tip at phillypolice.com; or call the Homicide Unit at 215-686-3334.