Shoes of every color surround a couple of trees wrapped with white ribbon, one on the east side and another on the west side of the drainage canal along Chisholm Trail in Plano. A woman’s photo rests on the trunk of each tree as residents mill about the makeshift memorial, paying respects to a 43-year-old woman who was attacked and killed early Saturday morning as she jogged along the trail’s path.
No suspect in the weekend homicide has been identified. But about the same time of the attack, officers were also called about a burglary in the 3400 block of Michael Drive, less than 100 yards away from where Sen’s body was found.
On Monday, 29-year old Bakari Abiona Moncrief, an out-of-state resident who was in town visiting relatives from another city outside of Plano, was named as a person of interest with a possible connection to the crime, Plano police spokesman David Tilley said. Moncrief is in custody at the Plano Jail and charged with burglary.
The murder victim is Sarmistha Sen, a clinical research manager at UT Southwestern who worked on cancer research. She had two young boys, ages 12 and 6.
“I’ve had many conversations with her over the years, and I am absolutely heartbroken,” one friend whose son played soccer with one of Sen’s boys posted on the Nextdoor app that connects residents in the area. “She was truly the sweetest and most loving person you could ever meet.”
According to a site set up by her family, Sen grew up in India and moved to Plano in 2004. She was a gardener who liked to cook and a trained singer who performed Indian classical music. An early riser, Sen liked to jog along the Chisholm Trail every morning.
A passerby found Sen’s body lying by the creek on the south side of Legacy Drive near Marchman Way. Police were called and a homicide investigation is underway as officials await an autopsy report, Tilley said.
The incident has led to a conversation thread by neighbors on Nextdoor concerning an increasing number of homeless people and drug addicts seen in neighborhoods backing up to the trail, especially since recent business closings and job losses during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I confront and usher these folks out of our alley every time I see them,” one resident wrote in a posting on Nextdoor. “We all need to pressure city leaders for more police presence on streets and alleys.”
Another resident who said he has walked along the same path twice a day for 12 years posted that he arrived at the scene where the woman was found shortly before the police showed up.
“I only wish I had left my home earlier and could of stopped what happened,” he wrote. “The COVID-19 and unemployment is bringing people from outside our community and this is dangerous.”
Others noted that they had never noticed any threats of danger or incidents on the path that is usually well-traveled with walkers, joggers and cyclists most hours of the day and night.
“Far more likely to encounter a bobcat, coyote, unleashed dogs or trip and fall on uneven concrete than to happen across a criminal on the street or trails,” one resident posted.
Violent crimes are actually down in Plano over the last 10 years, according to the city’s multi-year crime comparison report. It shows 1.88 violent crimes per 1,000 population in 2010, and 1.49 for violent crimes in 2019.
Residents said they plan to gather up the new and lightly used shoes collected at the memorial site and take them to a homeless shelter Tuesday afternoon in hopes that they can be put to use by those who need them.
A GoFundMe fundraiser has been set up by family for her husband, Arindam Roy, and their two boys at https://gf.me/u/yk79ki.