By Jada Solomon
This story is part of a collaborative project between Project: Cold Case and a University of North Florida Journalism class.
Keith Dinkins was an intelligent and ambitious young man. He had many dreams and was well on his way to making a good life for himself and his family. He loved his family and was looking forward to fatherhood.
Dinkins had a dream of opening his own barbershop. According to Sierra Johnson, the mother of Dinkins’ son, there were no hair stores on the Eastside of Jacksonville where they resided. Every time he visited other hair stores, Dinkins would ask questions about opening his own shop.
“Keith was a businessman. He didn’t really care for sports. If Keith wanted something he would go out and get it. He was making major moves and that lifestyle is what got him killed,” said Satonia Muff, Dinkins’ first cousin.
On August 5, 2009, Dinkins, 23, got into an altercation with three other men outside the A&E Grocery Store located at 1500 Florida Avenue. During the altercation, one person left, returned shortly after with a gun, and shot Dinkins in the chest. Dinkins was later pronounced dead at UF Health Jacksonville (Shands) Hospital.
Muff said the police thought Dinkins may have been the aggressor in the altercation and that the shooting was self-defense.
“But it was three against one. Keith was all by himself and they were all against him and that’s not fair,” said Muff.
Muff spoke with Dinkins the night before he died. He called her to discuss getting the whole family together to go to the beach. He loved going to the beach and spending time with his family. “Then the next morning, he was dead,” said Muff.
The police still have not found Dinkins’ killer.
“People know who killed Keith, but the police can’t arrest him because there’s not enough evidence to prosecute him. Nobody in the neighborhood wants to be a snitch. The man who killed Keith grew up with us and even went to church with us,” said Muff.
When Dinkins died, his son, Keith, Jr., was 12 months old and doesn’t know much about his dad or how he died. He only has stories told by Johnson and Muff.
Keith Jr., now 11, said he gets sad sometimes when asked about his dad, but he doesn’t really think about it that much. If his dad was here, he would want to go to the beach with him.
Johnson and Muff both said that they see a lot of Dinkins in his son. They said little Keith’s hands and feet look just like his dad’s and that he is very smart like him.
“Little Keith sneaks and eats food under the covers just like his dad. He even laughs just like him,” said Muff.
“Keith and I talked a lot about how we were going to raise our son. He was really looking forward to being a father,” said Johnson.
Dinkins wasn’t raised by his mother or father. His mother had him young, and his father was in prison. Keith was raised by his grandmother and she worked hard to make sure Dinkins had everything he needed. But, according to his cousin, Dinkins felt like he wasn’t given everything he could need.
Keith Dinkins wanted to be able to provide for his family and a great father to his newborn son. His upbringing encouraged him to create a better life for his son. Muff said the family does have plans to release Dinkins’s ashes at Jacksonville Beach, one of his favorite places.
The family has had a hard time dealing with the loss of Dinkins, especially since his killer has not been arrested. But they try to remember the good times they had with Dinkins and spend more time together as a family.
“I’m happy when all the family gets together to hang out and have fun. But it’s also sad because Keith is not here to do the things with us that he wanted to do,” said Muff.
If you have any information on the unsolved murder of Keith Dinkins, please call the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office at (904) 630-0500. To remain anonymous and possibly be eligible for a $3,000 reward, call First Coast Crime Stoppers at (866) 845-TIPS.
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