He had been robbed four times already. Once, some teenagers tied him up, taped his eyes shut and threw him in the cooler. Still the immigrant from India felt safe at PK’s Food Store, the first convenience store he actually owned. Unlike the other stores, nothing bad had happened here, in Trilacoochee, Fla. He knew all the customers by name, knew them so well he often had their favorite snack or beverage ready when they walked in. And once people came inside, no barrier separated them from Rahul Patel. People were even allowed to go behind the counter and pick out their own smokes. The security cameras had no film.
That’s what makes it so difficult for sheriff’s deputies to hunt down whoever gunned down Patel, cleaned out his cash register and left him to die that night in 2006, three days before Christmas, reports the St. Petersburg Times. The killing stunned community members, who said Patel had no known enemies. He often granted credit to customers who were short on cash, telling them, “You can see me next time.” Detectives say leads have dwindled as time has passed, but they add that the case is solvable. “There’s somebody out there who knows something,” said one.