An arrest warrant has been issued in connection to the murder of Dominique Fells, a 27-year-old transgender black woman from Philadelphia whose dismembered body was recovered from a river last week.
Authorities believe the 36-year-old Akhenaton Jones to be responsible for Fell's murder. The deceased body was found last week floating in the Schuylkill River in Southwest Philadelphia with multiple stab wounds and trauma to the head and face, with both legs severed.
Hazmat Suit, Blood Stains, Found at Suspect's Home
As part of their investigation, detectives stopped by his Powelton residence and found several things that tied him to Fells' murder, including a hazmat suit, bloodstains, and a grinding tool with blood on it. Jones will be charged with murder, possession of an instrument of crime, tampering with evidence, and abuse of a corpse.
Suspect is on the Run
Officers could not locate Jones at his residence who is believed to be on the run, prompting authorities to launch a manhunt for the suspect. He has been described as 5 ft 9 inches tall with tattoos of two Chinese characters on his right forearm and is considered to be armed and dangerous.
"Turn him in! This was a gruesome death. How anybody could do this to another human being is just so heartless and cruel. No mother should have to go through this, and I'm speaking for my sister-in-law," Fells' aunt, Germyce Williams said.
"We were always concerned about her. Whenever we saw her we'd say, 'Listen, be careful, make sure that you're safe, because we knew that there's a lot of hate out there for transgender,'" she added.
Fells was found dead just 24 hours before Riah Milton, another transgender woman was murdered in what advocacy groups have called an epidemic facing transgender people, especially Black trans women, and have called for steps to end violence against transgender people.
Milton is believed to be the 14th transgender or gender non-conforming murder victim in the U.S. this year, according to the Human Rights Campaign and these are only the cases that have been reported. Police Commissioner Danielle Outlaw released a statement calling this another act of hate and violence against a member of the LGBTQ community.
"We are deeply disturbed by the facts of this case and extend our deepest sympathy to Ms. Fells' family, friends and the entire LGBTQ community. Our homicide detectives have worked tirelessly in identifying the person responsible for this horrific crime," she said. Fells' funeral is scheduled to take place today, according to her family. A GoFundMe to cover the funeral costs has surpassed $120,000.