Man Accused of Murder, Dismemberment of 14-Year-Old Girl. Was She Killed Because She's Transgender?

Advocates have called on authorities to investigate the murder of Pauly Likens as a possible hate crime

<p>Amanda Benedict/GoFundMe</p> Pauly Likens

Amanda Benedict/GoFundMe

Pauly Likens

A Pennsylvania man is accused by authorities of murdering a 14-year-old transgender girl who was found dismembered.

Pauly Likens was last seen on June 22, Pennsylvania State Police said in a press release. Later that week, “various dismembered human remains,” later identified as Pauly’s, were found scattered around Shenango Lake, police said. The Mercer County Coroner identified the remains.

DaShawn Watkins was arrested after police claimed he was seen on surveillance video carrying a large duffle bag and allegedly making several trips in and out of his apartment with different bags on June 24. Police alleged that blood was found in Watkins’ apartment, including under the bathroom floor.

Watkins was charged with first-degree murder, according to court records, as well as aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse and tampering with evidence. It is not immediately clear if he has retained an attorney or entered a plea.

Pam Ladner, of the LGBTQIA+ Alliance Shenango Valley, told TribLive, WTAE and WPXI that she was informed by the victim’s mother that Pauly was a transgender female.

Authorities have not said if they believe Pauly’s killing was a hate crime, though the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, a statewide LGBTQ organization, called on local and federal authorities to consider the possibility of bringing hate crime charges against Watkins.

Want to keep up with the latest crime coverage? Sign up for PEOPLE's free True Crime newsletter for breaking crime news, ongoing trial coverage, and details of intriguing unsolved cases.

A GoFundMe started by a friend of Pauly’s mother has raised over $22,000.

“Pauly was only 14 years old and had a whole life ahead of her,” the organizer wrote. “No mother should have to bury their baby and due to her unexpected death the family was not financially prepared for funeral expenses.”

According to an online obituary, Pauly was an avid gamer and loved animals. She is survived by her parents and two siblings.

“Pauly lit up every room she entered, always making people smile and passing around her contagious laughter,” the obituary says. “Pauly was a selfless person never missing a chance to help others and give what she could. Even as a young child, she donated her spare change to the veterans’ stand outside Walmart.”

For more People news, make sure to sign up for our newsletter!

Read the original article on People.