Crime & Safety

Man used a cutting instrument to easily dispose of the body of a 14-year-old he previously arranged to meet through a social media app before scattering the teen’s remains in a lake; arrested

Pennsylvania – In a disturbing case in Pennsylvania, 29-year-old D. Watkins has been arrested and charged with the murder of 14-year-old P. Likens. The case has left the community in shock, with its gruesome details and tragic end to a young life.

On June 25, local authorities were alerted to potential human remains in the lake. Responding to the call, the authorities recovered partially submerged human remains. The county coroner, J. Libonati, later determined that the remains found belonged to the missing teenager, Likens, who had been missing since late June. Following a detailed investigation, authorities charged Watkins with first-degree murder, aggravated assault, abuse of a corpse, and tampering with physical evidence. The autopsy revealed that Likens died from sharp force trauma to the head, and evidence suggested the use of a “cutting instrument” to dis*ember her body.

According to police reports,  Likens was last seen alive on June 22 around 9:30 p.m. by a friend. After failing to return home and not responding to further communication attempts after late-night social media activity, her family reported her missing. Surveillance video and phone records later placed Likens near a bar around 3 a.m. on June 23. Further surveillance footage identified a vehicle, driven by Watkins, near the location where Likens was last seen. Video from Watkins’ apartment complex showed him carrying multiple bags and a large duffle bag, raising suspicions about his activities following Likens’s disappearance.

Upon his arrest on July 2, Watkins provided conflicting statements about his activities on the night of the murder. He mentioned meeting someone from the social media app Grindr, yet claimed poor memory about specific details. Authorities found blood in various locations in his home during a search, where they also discovered a receipt for an electric saw purchased the day after Likens was last seen. This saw, which was missing a blade, added to the growing body of evidence against Watkins.

The community and Likens’s family have been left reeling by the brutality of the crime. Likens’s aunt, L. Morsillo, expressed her grief and shock, describing the murder as “unfathomable” and stating that “only an absolute monster could do something like that to anyone, let alone a child.” Watkins is currently held in jail without bond and awaits a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 17. With charges that include first-degree murder, the legal proceedings are closely watched by a community seeking justice for the heinous acts committed against a young and innocent life. A GoFundMe page has been set up to assist Likens’s family with funeral and memorial expenses, reflecting the community’s support in their time of profound loss.

Donald Wolfe

Donald’s writings have appeared in HuffPost, Washington Examiner, The Saturday Evening Post, and The Virginian-Pilot, among other publications. He is a graduate of the University of Virginia. He is the Virginian Tribune's Publisher.

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