Philadelphia detectives are investigating the death of a woman whose battered body was discovered in the Schuylkill River this week as a homicide.
The dismembered body of Dominique Rem'mie Fells was found Monday evening floating near Bartram's Garden in Southwest Philadelphia. Her body was bruised and both legs were severed.
Police confirmed Fells' identity to NBC10 on Friday after the city's Office of LGBT Affairs released a statement the day before. Fells was a transgender woman. Deja Lynn Alvarez, an activist and member of Philadelphia's trans community, shared photos of Fells on Facebook on Thursday.
A police spokesperson said the manner of death was ruled a homicide and that detectives were actively investigating the killing.
A law enforcement source told NBC10 that dive teams found legs in bags in the same area where her body was found. The legs were discovered as authorities conducted an unrelated search for the bodies of two teens who went missing in the river this week.
In its statement, the office of LGBT Affairs called the killing trans people of color an epidemic.
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“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," the statement read in part.
Violence against transgender and gender non-conforming people continues to be a plague on the community. In 2019, at least 26 trans and gender non-conforming were killed nationwide, according to the Human Rights Campaign. A staggering 91% of the known victims were Black women. So far this year at least 14 people died.
“Black Trans Lives Matter,” said Tori Cooper, HRC director of community engagement for the Transgender Justice Initiative in a statement to NBC10. “In the same week countless people across the globe stand up for racial injustice, in the same week we honor the 49 victims of the Pulse massacre in Orlando, in the same week a billionaire author spouts transphobic rhetoric to millions – in this same week, we have lost two more Black transgender women to the same fate most of us worry about every day. Say their names. Dominique 'Rem'mie' Fells. Dominique 'Rem'mie' Fells. Dominique 'Rem'mie' Fells. Riah Milton. Riah Milton. Riah Milton. Continue to say the names of every transgender and gender non-conforming person stolen from this Earth. Don't wait until we are all gone to speak up. This fight belongs to us all.”
The billionaire author Cooper refers to is J.K. Rowling, creator of 'Harry Potter'. Rowling faced fierce criticism this week, including from actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Eddie Redmayne, for comments she made on Twitter about trans women.
Anyone with information about Fells death is asked to call the Philadelphia police tipline at 215-686-TIPS or to contact the office of LGBT Affairs.