Black Trans Women Dominique ''Rem'mie'' Fells, Riah Milton Murdered; Fells,Dismembered, Milton, Shot
Trigger Warning: This article contains descriptions of the moments leading up to the death of Milton and the recovery of Fells' remains. This may be particularly difficult for our Black trans sisters to read. Please exercise self care while doing so.
The names continue to grow on the list of murdered Black trans women. Dominique "Rem'mie" Fells of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and Riah Milton of Cincinnati, Ohio are the latest Black trans women to face violence in their final moments.
Dominique Fells, 27, body was discovered on the banks of the Schuylkill River in Philadelphia early Tuesday morning. According to Sisters PGH, a Black trans led community drop-in space based in Pittsburgh, Fells "was pulled from the river in a suitcase with trauma to the face and head, and legs severed mid thigh. It has been ruled a murder and is being investigated."
At the time of this publishing, there has been virtually no mainstream media or Black news coverage on Fells' death. Details on the circumstances leading to Fells' murder have not been released.
The City of Philadelphia's Office of LGBT Affairs issued the following statement:
“It is with deep sadness that we share the news of the recent passing of a member of our LGBTQ family. The pain of such a loss is always difficult, but it is especially deep as we are in the midst of Pride month—a season typically filled with joy and celebration for many in our community.
“As thousands take to the streets to proclaim that Black Lives Matter, it is critical we remember that this includes Black trans lives. Dominique Rem’mie Fells’ life mattered.
“We are reminded with this, and countless other painful losses—especially within our transgender communities—that there is much left to do until we achieve full equality, respect, and support for us all. The murder of transgender people—especially those of color—is truly an epidemic, and a crisis that we cannot afford to allow to persist any further.
“We are committed to ensuring that acts of discrimination, bigotry, and hatred are never tolerated in the city of Philadelphia. Know that we see you, we grieve with you, and we join you in solidarity at this time of great sadness.
“Please join the Office as we extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the family and friends of Dominique Rem’mie. Let us uplift her memory together.”
Riah Milton, 25, also lost her life to violence on Tuesday in Liberty Township, Ohio—a suburb of Cincinnati. According to Butler County Sheriff Richard K. Jones, Milton was found dead in the 6000 block of Spruce Creek Drive from multiple gunshot wounds around 5:23 a.m.. Jones said Milton was lured to the location by the perpetrators with the intent to rob Milton of her car and other belongings after connecting via the internet.
Upon meeting, a fight ensued and "the struggle continued all the way back to her (Milton’s) car,” said sheriff’s office Major Mike Craft. “She made it back to her vehicle, where she was shot and left in the street.” (Editor's Note: The Dayton Daily News and other outlets have repeatedly deadnamed and misgendered Milton. Living Out Loud 2.0 has updated the quote to reflect her correct pronouns.)
Two teens have been arrested in Tuesday’s incident, and a warrant has been issued for a third man. Kaleb Marshall Tooson, 18, of Liberty Township was arrested on charges of murder and aggravated robbery, and a 14-year-old girl was arrested on charges of complicity to aggravated robbery, complicity to murder and tampering with evidence.
A warrant also was issued for Tyree Jeffery Cross, 25, of Cincinnati, who is sought on charges of complicity to murder, complicity to aggravated robbery and unlawful sexual conduct with a minor.
Here's how Black trans activists and organizers are reacting to the latest murders:
If you live in the Philadelphia area and you're experiencing grief, sadness, and pain in response to this sudden loss, the Office of LGBT Affairs is working to coordinate a virtual community grief session. Information will be posted on The Office of LGBT Affairs Facebook page.