RICHMOND, Va. — Deja White knew something was wrong when her fiancee Rashad Dandridge did not call to check in on her.
Ever since Dandridge went to jail March 1, White said her fiancee would call to chat and ask about their two young daughters.
White’s instincts proved correct.
Dandridge was found dead in his cell June 21 at 2:37 a.m., according to a Richmond Sheriff’s spokesman. His cause of death remains under investigation.
Dandridge was serving jail on a probation violation.
He was due to get out of jail in July, White said, due to his hard work and good behavior.
“Rashad was a good person. He touched so many lives,” she added said.
She said he had no health issues when he went into jail and had stopped using drugs after their daughters, ages three and four, were born.
She and the girls had just seen him at the jail on Father’s Day.
“I think he was given something. I don’t think anyone killed him,” a frustrated and heart-broken White said.
Chris Whiting, a director at Church Hill Activities and Tutoring, first met Rashad at summer camp where Whiting was a counselor and Rashad a young camper.
Whiting eventually moved to Richmond where he and Rashad reunited in the tutoring program.
“He was a light to my life,” Whiting said. “He had a infectious smile and his humor. He was able to make folks laugh. He had a genuine care for me and others in the community.”
Whiting said that even as a younger child, Rashad stood out because of his energy and his smile.
“He helped me feel loved and valued in the community by just being who he is and being there for me,” Whiting said.
That was one reason why Whiting felt compelled to lead an effort to raise money for Rashad’s family and funeral expenses.
“He died much too young, leaving a space in the community, and leaving behind his fiance Deja and two beautiful young daughters,” a message on the giveforward page read. “Our prayers and support are with all his family during this difficult time.”
The page has a $5,000 fundraising goal.
Deja said while her fiancee was a good father and a good man overall.
“All he wanted was for me to be happy. He just wanted to me to smile,” she said.
There will be a memorial vigil on Sunday night.
His wake is on Monday at Wilson’s Funeral home on Nine Mile Road from 6 p.m. – 8 p.m.
A funeral service for Rashad Dandridge is scheduled for Tuesday, June 28 at 11 a.m. at Carlisle Ave Baptist Church.