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DeKalb mother links son's death to Clayton friends

By Daniel Silliman

dsilliman@news-daily.com

Khalia Waller and her fiancée, Talim Ruffin, always argued about his friends. She didn't like them, she said, but he still would go see them, sometimes spending an entire day with them, hanging out.

"I just didn't get a good vibe from them," Waller said. "They were from the street. But, all his life, he's been out with them."

Now she thinks his friends got him killed.

On Saturday, Aug. 9, Ruffin, a 27-year-old from DeKalb County, kissed Waller and said, "Baby, I'll be back later," and went to see his friends in Ellenwood. That was the last time she saw her fiancée, and the last time anybody admits to seeing him.

"I realized something was wrong Saturday night, when he didn't come home and he didn't answer his phone," Waller said. "I realized something was wrong then. I probably called him around 10 times, 20 times. I don't even know. I just called him every few minutes. I just kept calling. He never answered."

The DeKalb County Police Department's missing person report is about a paragraph long, paraphrasing a frantic phone call to say "Mr. Ruffin (B/M, 603. 260lbs, brn eyes, blk hair) left the location to go to a friend's house in Ellenwood, GA ... No one has been in contact with him since the date he went missing."

On Monday, Ruffin was found dead in Ellenwood. He was shot twice, wrapped in a blue blanket and garbage bags, and decomposing in the trunk of his own, burgundy-colored, 2000 Pontiac Bonneville. The car was abandoned in an unfinished housing development, where the construction had stalled, according to the Clayton County Police.

"I'm trying to hold myself up," Waller said. "I'm breathing."

Last week, Waller was making plans to get married in September. On Friday, she and Ruffin's mother were planning a memorial service and saying he should be, and would be, remembered as God's child.

Police say they didn't have any solid leads when the 27-year-old's body was found, and at the end of the week, they didn't have any updates to report in the ongoing investigation.

The only publicly available information related to the investigation is a loose timeline: Ruffin turned 27 on Friday, last saw Waller on Saturday morning, was reported missing Sunday morning, and was found Monday evening, when someone reported the abandoned car.

While police say they don't have any leads, Ruffin's mother, Iris Pinkie Ruffin, said her son had a history of getting into trouble, because he was with the wrong crowd. "He was a gangster, or he thought he was," Iris Ruffin said. "Young black men are angry for a lot things that are missing in their lives. Not just the missing fathers. Single mothers -- I was a single mother -- single mothers have to neglect them, in a way. I did the best I could."

Iris Ruffin said her son was turning his life around, despite, sometimes, still seeing the old crowd. She said she was just starting to get her son back. "He knew he'd made some mistakes," Iris Ruffin said, but he was, as part of a probation sentence, writing about what was important to him, and remembering the sacrifices his mother had made for him. In one exercise, Iris Ruffin said, her son wrote about how she quit her job, one time, just to follow him to school and make sure he went to school and stayed in class.

"I'm writing about all the stories about him," she said. "The title is, 'For the Love of Talim: Letters from a Mother to a Young Black Man.'"

Iris Ruffin said she hopes someone will use her son's death as "a sacrificial lamb" and turn their life around.

"It was somebody he knows," she speculated. "Somebody he knows, definitely. I've probably hugged the guy who did it."