March 12, 2014

911 call, witness shed details on murder scene

Victim’s eyes, mouth had been duct-taped shut

Jamie Jones

— “He’s dead.”

Those are the grim, poignant words spoken by a woman and heard faintly in the background of a 911 emergency call made after a customer discovered the bloodied body of a murdered convenience store clerk at the Hi-Tech Fuel gas station on Airport Road.

Mark Rogers, who made the 911 call, appears to have been the first person to discover the body of Dahyabhai Kalidas Chaudmari — who friends called “Dicky” — motionless on the store floor in a pool of blood. In an interview with The Daily Citizen Wednesday, Rogers said Chaudmari’s eyes and mouth had been duct-taped shut and there was change scattered behind the cash register, which indicated to Rogers the store had been robbed.

Skyy Raven-Marie Mims, 21, whose last known residence is Detroit, Mich., is charged with murder and armed robbery in the killing of Chaudmari, 37, on Sunday night. She was captured Tuesday night and remains in the Whitfield County jail without bond.

The Daily Citizen filed an open records request Monday to obtain the 911 call. The newspaper received the audio file on Wednesday.

During the call lasting more than four minutes, Rogers told the 911 operator he thought the store had been robbed. He entered the store and noticed change strewn about near the cash register. Then Rogers saw blood on the floor and a motionless man. When the operator asked Rogers if the man was dead, Rogers replied that he wasn’t sure. That’s when a person in the background interjected, “He’s dead.”

The operator asked if anyone else was at the store when he arrived, to which Rogers said no, then the operator instructed Rogers to remain in his vehicle until Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived.

As the operator kept Rogers on the line, he and the unidentified person were heard saying, “Oh man ...”, “Oh my goodness ...” and “There is blood everywhere.”

During the newspaper interview, Rogers said he was on his way home from Ringgold and stopped at Hi-Tech Fuel to buy gas and cigarettes. He said he visits the store about once a day and had become friends with the always-smiling Chaudmari, even giving the store clerk a ride home from work several times.

“Once I walked into the store, I hollered for Dicky and he wasn’t up front or anything,” Rogers said. “I walked over to the register and noticed there was change and stuff laying back behind the register. Then after that I kind of walked around the corner to the office to see where he was at. I found him laying there in the floor in a big pool of blood and everything. I went back outside and called 911.”

Rogers found Chaudmari near the deli section of the store, which Rogers estimated is about 10 to 15 feet from the cash register. The store clerk was flat on his back. His eyes and mouth had been duct-taped shut. Rogers never saw Mims.

Authorities have declined to say how Chaudmari was murdered or what weapon was used to kill him. A store manager has speculated Chaudmari was stabbed to death, possibly from behind.

Three days later, Rogers still couldn’t believe what happened.

“He was a real socialable kind of person,” Rogers said. “It’s very shocking. I don’t know what to say. It’s messed up, it really is. This guy wasn’t doing anything but working to feed his family back home and looked where that got him.”