Chiman Rai, a Mississippi businessman originally from India, wanted his black daughter-in-law out of his son’s life so much that he was willing to pay a hit man $10,000 to kill her. The body of 22-year-old Michelle Sparkle Reid Rai was found in her Union City apartment in the spring of 2000. Her infant daughter was present when the murder took place.
Ricky Rai, Sparkle Reid’s 20-year-old husband, found his wife’s body when he returned home from work that evening. He was later ruled out as a suspect. An autopsy report confirmed that Sparkle Reid Rai had been stabbed with a knife and strangled with a vacuum cord.
The case cooled for nearly a decade until someone came forward with information. According to the tipster, she knew a woman who claimed her cousin killed Sparkle Rai and that she was inside the apartment and watched Sparkle gasp for breath as she reached out to her infant daughter the day she was killed.
When police spoke with the cousin, who was just a teen in 2000, she gave them a chilling confession. On the day of the murder, she and another teen female were instructed by Cleveland Clark to knock on Sparkle Rai’s door and ask to use the bathroom. When the young mother opened it, the 300-pound killer forced his way inside, threw Sparkle to the ground, strangled her, and finished her off with a knife. Then he swore the girls to secrecy.
Police were able to confirm the story through phone and Western Union records, which linked back to a Mississippi grocer, who claimed Sparkle Rai’s father-in-law, Chiman Rai, wanted her dead. Through several people, Chiman Rai successfully masterminded the plot to kill Sparkle Reid, his African American daughter-in-law and the mother of his black grandchild.
Chiman Rai denied his involvement, and in court, the 67-year-old man looked more like a pudgy grandpa than a killer. Prosecutors say Ricky Rai knew how dangerous his father was, which is why he kept his marriage and his whereabouts a secret. But Chiman Rai was smarter. He hired a private investigator and found his son’s address in Georgia.
For the family’s honor, Chiman Rai was willing to kill to keep his family line pure. A judge sentenced him to life in prison. Cleveland Clark, the actual Killer, is currently on Georgia’s death row. The other two men involved received sentences of 10 months probation for their cooperation.
[Image credit: Lipstick Alley]