Suspect charged in the killing, burning of a man in Phoenix's 'The Zone'

By Kirsten Dorman
Published: Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - 9:14am
Updated: Tuesday, May 30, 2023 - 9:30am

The Zone downtown Phoenix
Tim Agne/KJZZ
Tents along 11th Avenue south of Jefferson Street in “The Zone” on March 28, 2023.

In March, local businesses won a lawsuit against Phoenix over what they say are health and safety concerns in and around the city’s biggest homeless encampment, known as “The Zone.”

Concerns around crime are also shared by those living in it.

The day after the court’s ruling, KJZZ News visited “The Zone” and met Fernando Rios. He said he has seen violence take place there firsthand and hears about it often.

“See that trash can?” Rios asked, pointing to a dumpster at the end of the block. “They just found a body — a burned body in that trash can. See that trash can right there? A burned body was in that trash can a couple days ago. Right there, over where the stop sign is. A burned body.”

Last week, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed an indictment against Dave Kahlil Jacuan Dinkins on several counts, including the first-degree murder of this still-unidentified man. Officials say Dinkins “is accused of having restrained, killed and then burned the body of a person living in the area known as ‘The Zone’” on March 21.

Antonio Harper said he’d heard about what happened from his neighbors.

“Put him in a cart, pushed the cart, and the camera saw him push the cart to the dumpster right there,” Harper said. “Throw him in there. Set him on fire. And he was still alive. Because someone heard him moaning. He was still alive.”

Harper said those who knew the victim said he was 22 years old.

This indictment is indicative of the hard work that prosecutors in this office put on every case, every day,” said County Attorney Rachel Mitchell in a press release last week. “Bringing justice to victims, no matter the circumstances, is the mission of this office.”

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