Sparkle Rai and Chiman Rai

The TV One true-crime series “ATL Homicide” covered the murder of Sparkle Rai, a newlywed mother-of-one, who was killed in her Union City, Georgia apartment in 2000.

The killer stabbed Sparkle and strangled her with a vacuum cleaner cord in front of her crying baby after letting himself into her apartment with a key. Police had no suspects and the case soon went cold.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution didn’t cover Sparkle’s murder at the time. The 22 year-old was just another random Black victim of violent crime in Atlanta.

Sparkle’s cold case was reopened in 2006 when her father-in-law Chiman Rai, 67, of Louisville, Ky., was arrested and charged with hiring a hit man to kill her because she was Black.

Chiman’s son, Rajeeve “Ricky” Rai, had dishonored the family’s good name by marrying an American Black woman.

Chiman, an immigrant from India, offered Sparkle $10,000 to break up with his son. When she refused, Chiman sought a deadly solution to his family problem.

Rajeeve discovered his wife’s body on the floor of their Flat Shoals Road apartment on April 26, 2000. She was just inside the front door, which was locked from the inside, according to the

Five Black men men, including Sparkle’s killer, Cleveland Clark, 49, and his brother Carl Clark, 43, both of Mississippi, were charged in Sparkle’s contract killing. The five men ranged in age from 43 to 74.

“It was cultural,” Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard told a reporter. “Her father-in-law couldn’t accept her marriage to his son because she was not Indian, and that was further escalated by that the fact that she was an African-American woman.”

Chiman Rai’s trial received wall-to-wall coverage in the AJC and other local media outlets. In 2008, Chiman Rai, then 68, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

In 2009, Clark, the 6-3, nearly 300-pound killer, then 52, was convicted of Sparkle’s murder and sentenced to die by lethal injection.

Sparkle’s husband, Rajeeve, moved to Chicago and married an Indian woman the same year his wife died. He never returned to Atlanta for the trial, and his new wife was not aware of his first marriage or his former wife’s brutal murder.

In 2006, Sparkle’s father Bennett Reid and his wife, former 11Alive reporter Donna Lowry, adopted the couple’s daughter, Annalla, who was only 7 months old when her mother was killed in front of her.

Bennett and Lowry were Anilla’s guardian until 2006 when Sparkle’s killer was arrested.

“I waited so long to adopt her because I didn’t want to erase the memory of my child,” said Reid.