Victim’s father-in-law accused in her murder
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/18/08 

The man accused of stabbing a woman to death in a reputed murder-for-hire later said that he should have harmed her baby as well, according to testimony delivered today in Fulton County Superior Court.
A woman testified she watched Cleveland Clark kill 22-year-old Sparkle Rai inside Rai’s Union City apartment. Clark said he didn’t hurt Rai’s daughter, but “he said he should have thrown the (expletive) over the rail” of the balcony, said the witness, now 23.
Joey Ivansco/AJC


Fulton County prosecutor Sheila Ross talks to the jury about Sparkle Rai’s father-in-law, Chimon Rai, and the other men accused of her murder.
Joey Ivansco/AJC


Chiman Rai (far right), watches with his defense team as the jury is chosen. From left, Jack Martin, Don Samuel, and Amanda Palmer.
The woman was testifying in the death penalty trial of Chiman Rai, a Mississippi businessman accused of hiring Clark through middle men to kill his daughter-in-law.
Prosecutors said 68-year-old Chiman Rai, a native of India, had Sparkle Rai killed because he didn’t want his son married to an African-American woman. The slaying occurred in 2000, a month after Sparkle and Rajeeve “Ricky” Rai married.
The woman who testified this morning was a teenager at the time of the killing. She said her best friend, Clark’s cousin, recruited her to help create a ruse to get Clark into Sparkle’s Union City apartment. The witness said she thought they were being recruited to transport drugs for a $5,000 fee but learned too late that the job was really murder.
The woman, who broke down in tears when shown pictures of Sparkle’s bloody corpse, testified that Clark nearly botched the killing because he tried to strangle Sparkle.
As they were leaving the apartment the seemingly lifeless Sparkle gasped, which caught Clark’s attention.
“Cleve was walking out the door with me and (Sparkle) started coming back to life,” the witness said. “He went back to the kitchen and got a knife and stabbed her and he was still stabbing her when I left.”
After the killing, the woman, who had been attending classes at Lovejoy High School earlier in the day, said she assured Clark that she would keep quiet about the crime.
“It was a pinky promise,” she said, showing jurors how she and Clark had interlocked little fingers when she made her vow.
Four years later, she was arrested in a high-speed chase with Atlanta police. She reportedly told police she could help them solve a killing, which led investigators to the bizarre motive for the murder that had stumped them for years.
Superior Court Judge T. Jackson Bedford issued an order Wednesday that the media not identify either the woman or Clark’s cousin because they are in jail and don’t want to be known as snitches.
The 25-year-old cousin testified Wednesday that Sparkle Rai never screamed after the two young women asked to use her bathroom and Clark slipped in behind them. Clark asked the victim “where the dope was” but she didn’t seem to know what he was talking about, the cousin said.
Chiman Rai reputedly believed Sparkle had led his son, Rajeeve “Ricky” Rai, then 20, into thievery and drugs. In reality, investigators said, the younger Rai and his wife worked in menial jobs without any connection to the drug trade.
The cousin testified Wednesday that her friend took possession of Sparkle’s infant daughter, Analla, who had started crying and took the baby fromo the room in an attempt to calm her. Clark wrapped a cord from Sparkle’s vacuum cleaner around her neck and started strangling her with it, the cousin said.
“She was gagging and blood started coming out of her mouth,” the witness said, noting that Sparkle reached out during her murder.
“In what direction was she reaching?” asked prosecutor Eleanor Ross.
“Her baby,” the cousin said.


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  1. Rachael

    Her husband had to of known something was up. Why would he not show emotion when finding his wife dead? Did he know that his family must of done this? It is like he left his past behind to not get disowned by his family. He very shortly married an indian woman and never told her about the situation…I think he knew what was to happen. I think somehow they convinced him to let it happen or something like that. I don’t know…I don’t think he is inocent in all of it.

    • dreamer33

      i totally agree with Rachael – why was his emotionless when interrogated by police when his wife Sparkle was murdered. He may have not been part of the plot but I’m sure he knew his father was behind the murder. Who knows? maybe the dad had already told the son he was gonna do that. Another red flag the widower knew was that he non chalantly left his baby daughter with in laws. What kind of father does that? I don’t believe this murder for hire occurred because Sparkle was black. I’ve heard way too many stories similar to this from Indian families. They are wonderful people but don’t dare marrying outside your race or religion – specially if your parents have already preselected you a bride or a husband in India

  2. ATLSis

    Makes you wonder sometimes……?

    I just don’t know how Ricky can live with himself and without his daughter. I also cannot see how his whole family just could just not think about their flesh and blood. Was race/culture so important that they disregarded Sparkle’s life? everyday, I’m always hoping that I’m wrong because so far,they don’t seem to be interested in the child whatsoever.

    Initially, I was all in favor of the death penalty, but I realize that was too easy for him. Besides I’ve never been in favor if it. One day, he’s probably going to wish that he had received it. I hope that he lives long enough and that he will never develop Alzheimer’s disease/Dementia because, if his granddaughter desires to, she may ask him ” why?” or ask her dad the same question.

    I find it rather ironic that they were concerned about Sparkle’s race being in the way of Rai’s ” great” family tree( Yeah right). From what I have read about her father in law, he did some illegal stuff. On top of that , he killed his daughter in law. Oh well , so much for the Rai’s good name. Their granddaughter is in the right place. with Sparkles folks.

  3. Dee

    I feel there is more to the story. Ricky showed no emotion over his wife’s death; good grief. I’m sick and tired of other cultures thinking they can impose their damn beliefs onh other in this country. The father in-law should ahve gotten the death penalty. Ricky even lied about his father being dead; something is not right here. This young lady hooked up with a liar and not even man enough to protect his wife . After her murder he just goes off to have a jolly life with a new family. Like I said, he knew something was up.

    • dreamer33

      agree! Ricky should have undergone a court process and go to jail for many years as well. Why is he still walking out free? wonder if he knew murder was gonna take place – knowing very well daddy had a wife for him in India. That’s where he went to India for I bet – not to travel with his parents but to meet his new Indian bride.

  4. Ron

    Just saw this story on Dateline ID I did follow the story somewhat in 2008 without all the details. This story was just ugly all the works of evil. I aggree with earlier replies 100 percent. I just want to add a couple of things. The two middle man are just as guilty of murder and they made a deal with the police to save their necks. 10 years probation I hope they did’nt forget God sees them as murders also. They better get it right with Him like yesterday. The grandfather spent all that money to pay for his children’s education but could not find it in his heart spend money to better his son’s, daughter-in-laws and grandchild’s life. And Ricki had no value for his wife and child’s life either because he knew what was about to happen. This why its so important to have Christ in our lives to protect us from evil thoughts and actions.

  5. Allan

    Just saw the Discovery ID television show about the murder. I don’t know how Ricky Rai could not be prosecuted when he made the excuses that both of his parents were dead when he knew they were not – and thereby providing an alibi to mislead the police – ahead of the murder. He is as guilty as his piece of sh__ old man. Damn good thing I wasn’t on that jury or I’d have hung the bast__d myself.

  6. E.j.

    I think it’s scary & sad that 3 men & 2 women of the victim’s same race & community committed and/or stood by while she was murdered. Scary! The whole family & group disgust me.

  7. ron timmor

    I think sparkle was a babe!!

  8. Vetta

    OMGoodness, I agree also with every one’s comments. I’m sure the son Ricky Rai knew all about the type of dad he had. I understand Ricky and Sparkle moved to ATL while she was in the stages of early pregnacy to get away from his father. I also understand she was murdered after a month of them being married, What I do not understand is why didn’t the Private Investigator who found them face any charges. I would assume he led the murderers in a since right to Mrs.Sparkles front door. also were the two female (witnesses) charged? I hope the father in law lives everyday with her beautiful face starring back at him, I hope he is haunted by her memory and spirit. He took a beautiful life and destroyed It along with so many more lives. God Bless Sparkles family for having such a wonderful and caring ability to raise baby Analla. she will grow up with the most beautiful memories of her mama, I just know it.

  9. kenyettamobetta

    So, let me get this straight!?! How do you fix yourself to not like somebody because of race? This woman, an American, before you were ever even considered an American, i’m sure, can’t qualify for American assistance because her tax dollars are being given to you so you can own your own business!?! BUT, you hate blacks? And furthermore, you can’t choose who your son falls in love with, especially when you step on American soil. This is a free country: free to love and obviously in your case, free to kill…..until you get caught. I hope you burn in hell.

  10. roxana

    what i cannot even understand is how he was concerned about his “reputation”, but thought that a murder would help keep it in good standing. Is he serious? What kind of backwards ass logic is that? This is how irrational racism is. Also, agree that Ricky was definitely involved. He lied about his family and was conveniently not in the home, and then left his daughter and never looked back. Horrendous.

  11. KATHY barro

    It is so sad how people can just take a life period. God give life only a God should take life. I can’t believe the family have such a cold heart that they don’t have anything to do with their daughter, niece and grandchild. Thank u Lord for exposing him, and I pray that ONEDAY they see this baby as a gift that she is. R.I.P SPARKLE WITH UR BEAUTIFUL SELF.

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