Pa. man arrested for allegedly killing, dismembering missing transgender teen

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul10,2024

MERCER, Pa. (TCD) — A 28-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and other charges for allegedly killing and dismembering a missing transgender teen.

Paul Likens Jr. was reported missing to the Sharon Police Department on June 25 at around 2:30 p.m., though no one had heard from Likens since June 22. On June 25, Hermitage Police Department officers discovered dismembered human remains “partially in the water” at Shenango Lake. Pennsylvania State Police were called to the scene and took over the investigation.

Pennsylvania State Police said additional human remains were found in “various remote locations” near Shenango Lake. The Mercer County Coroner confirmed the body parts were those of Likens and that the teen “was dismembered by some type of cutting instrument.” The coroner determined Likens died by sharp force trauma to the head.

Investigators learned Likens was near Budd Street Public Park and the canoe launch area on June 23 between 3 a.m. and 3:40 a.m. Pennsylvania State Police said surveillance video showed Likens was on the phone and seemed to be waiting for someone. Detectives used the video to identify a suspect, DaShawn Watkins, who was seen driving to Riverwalk Apartments. Watkins reportedly was seen making “several trips out of his apartment carrying multiple bags and garbage bags” on June 24.

Blood was found around Watkins’ apartment and under bathroom flooring.

Watkins was arrested July 2 on charges of first-degree murder, aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with evidence.

The Erie Times-News reports Likens went by Pauly and was a transgender female who would have turned 15 on July 6.

According to court documents cited by the Erie Times-News, Watkins and Likens allegedly met on the dating app Grindr. Watkins reportedly said he and Likens “had sexual contact” at a spot that he drove to and Likens walked to. Watkins claimed he brought a suitcase into his apartment because he left it in his car from a previous vacation. When asked about lacerations on his hand, he allegedly claimed he injured himself “on a piece of sheet metal while searching for reptiles.”

Additionally, investigators reportedly discovered a receipt for a saw with exchangeable blades and the same type of saw at Watkins’ apartment.

Likens’ obituary reads, “Pauly lit up every room she entered, always making people smile and passing around her contagious laughter. Pauly was a selfless person never missing a chance to help others and give what she could.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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