UPDATE, MAY 1, 2015: Skyy Mims, was found guilty in all 11 counts in the death of “DK” Chaudhar. Her sentencing is scheduled for June 19, 2015.
When the news broke in March 2014 about a horrific murder at a convenience store in Whitfield County, Georgia, I just shook my head. We become immune to the nonstop barrage of violence. Most of us never know the victims. I’ll pause here to show you a picture:
The man’s name was Dahyabhai Kalidas Chaudhari, from India. He was 37 years old. His was a hard name for Americans to pronounce, so friends and co-workers called him “DK,” or “Dicky.” I never met DK. He had only worked in the Dalton store for a few weeks. Many of us go in and out of those stores, and we’re always in a rush. Most of us don’t take the time to talk much with the clerk. I’ve never worked behind one of those counters, but I’m thankful for those who do.
Friends say DK was a nice guy who did his job well. Convenience store clerks have to be on guard constantly. Despite security improvements that include sharp cameras, they’re an inviting target for some. A lot of cash changes hands, out in the open. The cameras caught a young woman named Skyy Mims who, according to the jury, stabbed him in the back and smothered him with duct tape. DK died a painful, violent death.
Less than 24 hours after this awful crime, the police reviewed the video, received an anonymous tip, and Mims was named as a suspect. She was soon captured, telling police, “You saw what I did. Y’all caught me red-handed.” The DNA evidence was overwhelming. She had even left her cell phone at the scene, filled with her photos and videos.
During the trial, Mims spent much of her time laughing at video evidence and waving at news cameras. The jury left the courtroom, got comfortable in their chairs, reached a verdict, signed the papers, and returned the verdict in less than an hour. “Guilty” on every count. Even her friend, Kylle Harewell, who was trying to boost her music career, tweeted this after the verdict: “I cared about you and tried to help u, but u hurt me, and others. (You) took a life. Totally unacceptable, may God have mercy upon (your) soul.”
I won’t post Mims’ photo here. We’ve seen her plenty of times, on every front page, website and newscast. Her image is etched in our memory. We didn’t see nearly as much of the victim.
Many media outlets gave the suspect extra attention because she did not fit “the profile.” Usually, we see a photo of a suspect or the mugshot of a person who has been arrested, and we say, “Now, that looks like someone who would commit that crime.” Not this time. The first photo issued by the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Department showed a glamorous young woman, with flashy jewelry and heavy makeup. Some said it was the face of a fashion model. So, we stopped what we were doing. We searched Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. She was easy to find. She had obviously been craving fame, and she got it.
DK had no family in the United States, other than his co-workers and a few friends. His body was sent to India, where he was survived by two brothers, and a few other family members. They struggled to understand, as we did, why the “aspiring model/rapper” killed a working man for a little cash and about eighty lottery tickets.
Amanda Tyler is one of his former co-workers. This is what she wrote on my Facebook page: “His smile could brighten your day. He never met a stranger, he spoke to everyone. He would give you the shirt off his back if you needed it. He was so kind, and had the biggest heart of anyone I know.”
I’m so appreciative and sympathetic to the folks who keep those stores open. All night, all weekend, on Christmas day, they’re on duty, looking over their shoulder. They can’t trust anyone, can they? Even people who don’t fit the profile may be out to get them. If I could speak to DK, I’d say, “Thanks, friend. Thank you for being there for us. Thanks for trying to make an honest living, doing a job most of us wouldn’t want to do. You had no idea such an evil person would enter your store that night. I hope you know how much your co-workers and customers loved you. Rest in peace.”
We’ve seen Mims’ photos, and her camera-hogging, giggling courtroom appearances over and over. I assume that after her sentencing, her fifteen minutes of fame will be over. I think it is far more important we remember the victim, one more time.