More Information and Questions on the Murder of Pauly Likens

According to documents obtained by media outlets, the man who chose to murder Pauly claimed he had met someone on Grindr, using the app to meet up with an individual described to match the girl per KDKA – TV and they had ‘sexual contact.’  

‘Sexual contact’ between a 29 year old man and a 14 year old girl is called rape. Will the autopsy provide evidence? Will a rape charge be added? Should it?

Multiple media outlets report that on June 23, Watkins purchased an electric saw with exchangeable blades that was recovered from the home with blade missing. 

What we don’t know, likely because police have not recovered all of her remains, is a time of death and/or evidence of sexual contact. Was Pauly dead when he bought the saw? Does that matter legally?

Then there’s this from Mercer County District Attorney Peter Acker.

“I’ve gotten several questions about whether or not we’re investigating this as a hate crime,” Acker said. “The answer is no because the defendant is an admitted homosexual [gay man] and the victim was [a trans girl] transitioning.

What does this mean? An adult gay man murders a 14 year old trans girl and there’s some weird consent vibe? Gay people can hate trans people as well as cishet folx. Look at the TERFs. Look at LGBTQ folx who beat their partners, remove parental rights, etc.

It is a poor reflection on the Mercer County District Attorney’s office that the DA himself has such ignorance on gender identity.

First, taking hate crime charges off the table before Pauly’s body has been fully recovered and while the investigation has barely begun is always a bad look. I respect when law enforcement keeps an open mind during a criminal investigation.

“If not for Pauly’s identity as a trans girl, would she have been targeted by the suspect?” Preston Heldibridle, the executive director of the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, said. “Law enforcement must consider hate crimes charges if the facts support it. If they do not proceed with them, they need to thoroughly explain to the public why they are not doing so.”

Good question, Preston. Considering the time and effort a forensic investigation will take as well as the psychological examens to determine motive, we should wait. I’m glad you called them out.

DA Acker fired back at critics for having a political agenda. That’s an important part of his job – defensive posturing and calling out threats to his own political agenda. We saw that in 2017 with the former DA in the shooting death of Sean Hake and the trial of Claire McClimans.

“First-degree murder is the highest most serious crime in Pennsylvania,” he said. “What more do people want other than to satisfy their political agendas?”

A child in your community was brutally murdered, Peter. On your watch. By a man with no criminal history. In a state without hate crime protections based on sexual orientation or gender identity. Forgive us for wanting you to do your job while also wanting elected officials in Harrisburg to do their jobs.

We want justice for Pauly. We want better laws. We want robust thorough, investigations. We want all law enforcement and elected officials to be competent and affirming of LGBTQ people. We want 14 year old kids to have social opportunities in safe settings.

Do your job, Kevin. Stop worrying about my political agendas.

Also, admitted homosexual? That means he identified as a gay man. It is not an admission to describe your sexual orientation any more than it is to reveal your age, place of birth, or ethnic heritage. Those are facts, not shameful secrets. Watkins shame stems from his actions, not his identity.

DeShawn Watkins is a Black man. I guarantee if he was cishet and did this to a 14 year old white cishet girl, hate crimes would be on the table.

Generally, I’m not a fan of calling things hate crimes in a legal sense before robust data is in-hand. Right now, I worry it will distract from the other unanswered questions.

Why is a 14 year old using Grindr? Why isn’t the company protecting children? What was Pauly seeking and why? Was she talking with anyone else? Was anyone else talking with Watkins? Has he hurt anyone else?

Why is the media reporting there’s ‘permission’ to share the fact that Pauly was a trans girl? I’ve never heard of the media seeking permission to describe a cisgender heterosexual child.

We can’t call for hate crimes based on gender identity, but treat gender identity information like a shameful secret.

We didn’t need permission, we needed confirmation of Pauly’s identity and that came from multiple relatives, neighbors, and Pauly’s own social media. To fail to report that fact would be erasing a child who was literally obliterated by her murderer. Why would we deny her that decency because anyone, no matter who they are, would try to claim otherwise? Not a parent, not a child, not a spouse or partner. Pauly’s identity belonged to her.

In the meantime, our #ProtectTransKids yard sign project sent our remaining inventory to Sharon for the vigil on Saturday. It is a tragic situation, but I hope our affirming message reaches all of the trans and queer folks in Mercer County. Please put one up in your yard.

The time is now to send a message. That’s our agenda.

Update: ironically I used the wrong name for the DA. It’s Peter not Kevin. My apologies to readers.


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