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Pennsylvania Man Charged with Murder of Teenager in Mercer County

Pennsylvania, 29-year-old DaShawn Watkins is accused of the brutal murder and dismemberment of 14-year-old transgender teen, Pauly Likens. The Sharon Police Department was alerted on June 25 about Likens’ disappearance since June 22, as per a news release from the Mercer County Coroner. That same day, dismembered remains were discovered in the Shenango River Lake area, with the subsequent recovery spanning several days.

The autopsy confirmed that Likens died due to sharp force trauma to the head, and the manner of death was classified as homicide. Surveillance footage and records from social media and cell phones indicated Likens was last seen near a canoe launch area, possibly waiting to meet someone. Further footage showed Watkins making multiple trips from his apartment carrying bags, and driving the same vehicle spotted near the crime scene. Preliminary blood tests in Watkins’ apartment were positive, supporting the charges against him, which include first-degree murder, aggravated assault, evidence tampering, and abuse of a corpse.

Pamela Ladner, president of the LGBTQIA+ Alliance Shenango Valley, expressed profound grief over the incident, noting that instead of celebrating what would have been Likens’ 15th birthday, the family is planning a funeral. Likens, remembered as a humorous, prank-loving, and selfless individual, has sparked discussions on safety and advocacy for LGBTQ youth in the wake of this tragedy. Although the murder has been perceived by the victim’s family and LGBTQ activists as a hate crime, official charges reflecting this have not yet been filed.

Watkins, who was denied bail at his arraignment on July 3, has preliminary hearings scheduled for July 17 and July 25. He has not yet entered a plea. In memory of Likens, local LGBTQ activist groups are organizing a candlelight vigil on July 13.

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