Pennsylvania community still shaken after news of killing and dismemberment of missing 14-year-old transgender

SHARON, Pa. (KDKA) – A community is reeling from an unspeakable crime. A 14-year-old transgender girl was killed and dismembered.

The Remains of Pauly Likens were found scattered around Shenango Lake. State police said the investigation into the suspect, DaShawn Watkins, is ongoing.

“It's a total tragedy. The entire community, the entire county has come together to support the Likens family.”

Giant Eagle told KDKA-TV that Watkins was employed at Giant Eagle's Warren, Ohio, location but no longer works there.

Watkins' neighbors say they never suspected him, commit such a terrible crime.

“I would call it evil because it's a child, no matter what his preferences were,” said neighbor Terrance Tarver. “It was hard to hear from someone you see every day and to experience something like that so close to home.”

At the Riverwalk Apartments in Sharon, Tarver is still stunned. He lived four doors down from the man accused of murder.

“He was a quiet guy. We held the door open for each other, [and] “We pass each other in the hallway,” Tarver added.

Likens was reported missing on June 25. That same day, a person reported finding dismembered human remains in the Shenango Lake area.

On the night of the alleged crime, Tarver heard or saw nothing unusual.

“I just don't understand how anyone could bring themselves to do this when there is so much acceptance of it around the world today,” Tarver said.

State police in Mercer County arrested Watkins, 29, and charged him with the crime.

State police said they used information from Likens' cell phone provider, social media records and surveillance video.

They say the victim met Watkins early Sunday morning, June 23, at the Budd Street Public Park and Canoe Launch in Sharon.

Surveillance video shows Watkins leaving the canoe ramp in his vehicle and driving to his nearby apartment. A short time later, police say, surveillance video shows Watkins effortlessly carrying a duffel bag and later struggling with the bag inside the apartment.

They also found a receipt for a saw with replaceable blades. One of those blades was missing. Investigators also found that Watkins had two cuts on his hand.

Sources told KDKA-TV that police are currently working to find out more about Watkins and Pauly's relationship, but Watkins told police he used the dating app Grindr.

Many days later, many people in the community are still suffering.

“Honestly, I'm at a loss for words. The fact that everyone came together, not just Sharon, but Mercer County as a whole,” said Pauly's neighbor Jenna Maurice. “They helped with the funeral expenses, the performance and the vigil on Saturday.”

“At the end of the day, it's still a tragedy. I don't think anyone will ever be okay again.”

“Terrifying. Terrifying. The fact that someone can do this to another human being, let alone a child, shows what kind of person they really are.”

KDKA-TV obtained a portion of Pauly's obituary, which highlights the teenager as a selfless and intelligent person.

Pauly lit up every room she walked into, always making people smile and letting her infectious laugh walk around. Pauly was a selfless person who never missed an opportunity to help others and give what she could. Even as a young child, she would donate her spare change to the veterans stand in front of Walmart. Pauly loved all of her pets, all of her friends' pets, and just about any animal she saw. A cheeky child, Pauly loved to give her family a hard time, crack jokes, and enjoy every moment with her family. Shopping with her Aunt Liz fueled her silly lifestyle, she never missed an opportunity to buy new fashion pieces or get her nails done. Pauly loved her games and played Fortnite and Roblox with her friends. Pauly loved to stay up to date with the current music scene and listen to anything that caught her ear.

A vigil in Pauly's honor is planned for Saturday evening at 7 p.m. at the LGBTQ+ Alliance of Shenango Valley.

Anna Harden

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