Pauly Likens Was a 14 Year Old Trans Girl When She Was Brutally Murdered in Sharon, PA

Pauly Likens

Pauly Likens was a 14 year old trans girl, born and raised in Sharon, Pennsylvania. She went missing on June 22, 2024. Pauly was killed on June 23, 2024. Her parents reported her missing on June 25, 2024. Her death by murder was announced on July3, 2024.

The Crime

From The Sharon Herald

Likens was reported missing to the Sharon Police Department at about 2:30 p.m. June 25. Later that evening, the Hermitage Police Department responded to a report of dismembered human remains being found near the Golden Run Wildlife Area at the lake, near Clark.

The investigation was referred to the state police. Over the course of the next week, more dismembered human remains were discovered in multiple areas surrounding the lake, according to a press release from the state police barracks in Mercer.

The state police were also seen using an underwater drone to search the Shenango River near the Budd Street bridge in downtown Sharon on June 27.

Sharon Herald

On Wednesday, July 3, police confirmed that these remains belonged to Pauly, notified her family, and arrested DaShawn Watkins, 29, of Sharon. Watkins was charged with first-degree murder, aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse and tampering with physical evidence, according to court documents. He was arraigned and is being held without bail in the Mercer County Jail.

Note that law enforcement and many media outlets misgender Pauly, in some cases using her deadname. Her chosen name was a derivative of her birth name. I have reached out and asked GLAAD to do so. The Sharon Herald’s reporting is the most accurate I can find. I urge you to link to their site. They are at the epicenter of this story.

Honoring Pauly Likens

According to sources, Pauly had been in the local public school. In 2023, she transferred to schooling at home. She’s described as someone who always had her nails done. Sometimes she used the name Paula.

She had blue eyes, dark blond hair, and often wearing Converse sneakers. Pauly was known for her trademark beanie hat.

Her social media content indicates that she liked dogs and other animals. She followed several pages dedicating to doing community works. Her family shared photos of her from a Dave Matthews Concert.

The Shenango Valley Pride Picnic and LGBTQIA+ Alliance Support Groups will hold a candlelight vigil on Saturday, July 13, 2024 in Sharon.

The Context

My list includes 23 individuals whose deaths were discovered this year. This number is likely not complete as there are multiple reports that have yet to be confirmed.

At age 14, Pauly is the youngest person on this list and possibly the youngest person I’ve ever memorialized. There are five trans teens total on this list so far. In 2023, we reported the deaths of two teenagers.

Pauly’s death is an eerie echo of the 2023 murder of Jacob Williamson, 18, in North Carolina. Like Pauly, Jacob reportedly met his murderer online or through a dating app. Jacob also disappeared in late June 2023 and was found in early July. Jacob’s killers held him captive and brutally murdered him.

The autopsy reveals his cause of death was multiple sharp force injuries. The report shared details of more than 30 stab wounds, cuts and mutilations. Some body parts were intentionally removed. His body was placed into multiple trash bags.

There is a trend I’ve noticed and reported on before

The deaths are not literally connected. They are connected to a narrative that has ratcheted upwards in recent years. A narrative of erasing trans experiences. And erasing trans people through policies and procedures in schools, in local and state legislation, and national rhetoric. A narrative that demonizes trans youth for simply existing.

If we continue to turn away from the complex realities of trans youth in our society, we are taking a significant risk that it will get worse. We need to consider this context of age in these conversations. Broad generalizations about younger generations attitudes towards identity may be overlooking a very real threat.

More trans youth are being killed and their murderers are increasingly younger. In Pauly’s case, a 29 year old plucked a 14 year old into meeting him. Dating app? Maybe. But what was going on in her life and in her mind that led her to make that terrible decision to meet him? Obviously, I’m not saying she did this to herself, I’m saying that we have to ask ourselves tougher questions about the reality we create for trans teens.

Sharon is located in Mercer County in Northwestern Pennsylvania. It is about halfway between Erie and Pittsburgh. It is home to Grove City College, one of the most notorious rightwing schools in the nation. However, it is also home to multiple school districts that have been on the cutting edge of inclusive and affirming policies for LGBTQ youth. I’ll explore this in a future post.

Rest in power, Pauly. You deserved to grow up. Your life was precious in all its complexity and unique design. Your family came looking for you, they were relentless in their determination to find you. They loved you. It is hard to tell a 14 year old to rest in their death. Know that your LGBTQ neighbors will honor your life and respond to your death by reaching out more firmly to other trans, nonbinary, and GNC youth in Mercer County.

May your memory be a revolution.

This is Our List

This is our list of transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming neighbors who have been victims of the campaign of terror in 2024. Please do not copy, modify, or share this list without attribution.

  1. Kitty Monroe – January 1, 2024. Phoenix, Arizona. Age 43.
  2. Nex Benedict – February 8, 2024. Owasso, Oklahoma. Age 16.
  3. Righteous Torrence ‘T K’ Chevy Hill – February 29, Atlanta. Georgia. Age 35.
  4. Reyna Hernandez – Between Feb 28 and March 28, location TBD. Age 54.
  5. Diamond Cherish Brigman – March 16, 2024, Houston, Texas. Age 36.
  6. Alex Franco – March 19, 2024. Salt Lake City, Utah. Age 21.
  7. Meraxes Medina – March 19, 2024, Los Angeles, California. Age 24.
  8. Cecilia Gentili – February 6, 2024, New YorkCity, New York. Age 52.
  9. Ryan Zimmerman – Sept 2015, Columbus OH Age 21 Murdered 2016, Identified 2020, reported 2024.
  10. Lagend Billions aka Tee Arnold – April 7, 2024, Miami, Ohio. Age 36.
  11. África Parrilla García – February 2, 2024, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Age 25.
  12. Nevaeh ‘River’ Goddard – April 5, 2024,. Stow, Massachusetts. Age 17,
  13. Andrea Doria Dos Passos – April 22, 2024, Miami, Florida. Age 37.
  14. Sasha Williams – January 26, 2024, Las Vegas, Nevada. Age 36.
  15. Kita Bee – May 3, 2024, Kansas City, Missouri. Age 46.
  16. Starr Brown – April 19, Memphis, Tennessee. Age 28.
  17. Jazlynn Johnson – May 6, 2024, Carso City, Nevada. Age 18.
  18. Unknown Name – June 17, Denver, Colorado. Age unknown.
  19. Paris Rich Jessup 13 June 2022
  20. Kit Nelson-Mora, Washington State, 2022
  21. Niomi Jenkins, May 2024 San Francisco
  22. Tayy Dior Thomas – May 7, 2024, Mobile, Alabama. Age 17
  23. Pauly Likens – June 23, 2024, Sharon, Pennsylvania. Age 14
Trans deaths


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