Dana Wilkes expressed fear towards Bigoms days before murder
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
The family of a dialysis worker who was murdered and dismembered in 2012 says they can finally begin to remember the life of 48-year-old Dana Wilkes. On Monday, a sequestered jury found her killer, Tony Bigoms, 54, guilty of first degree murder and abuse of a corpse. Jurors deliberated for five hours before reaching their verdict.
There were tears of joy after months of heartache for Dana Wilkes' family on Monday. Since November 2012, they have been living in a nightmare. But on Monday, they say, finally, justice was served.
The typically stoic Bigoms collapsed into tears when the verdict was read.
"I just thank God that it was a guilty verdict," said Dana's mother, Carol Simms. "This person will never harm another woman, ever."
Simms recalled her daughter telling her just days before her murder that she was scared.
"She was afraid of Tony Bigoms, he made passes at her all the time, and she was tired of it," Simms said.
But Dana had no idea of Bigoms' violent criminal past. He was the best friend of her husband, Tom Wilkes.
"That in itself is a crime to me -- to be a husband and not protect your wife," Simms said.
Tom Wilkes was serving time for traffic violations in November 2012. Dana's sister, Amy Yates, remembers Bigoms name coming up several times before his arrest. Simms called Tom in jail and asked who he was.
"He started screaming, 'Not Tony, not Tony, not Tony'," Yates remembered. "Because I think he probably knew."
Yates says she kept a Bible verse with her during the trial -- comfort in dark times.
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it," she quoted.
Yates believes Dana's light, along with God's, never went out.
"They were in the courtroom," Yates said. "And they outshone the darkness."
Bigoms was sentenced to life in prison. It will be 30 years before the 54-year-old can become eligible for parole. Bigoms' lawyers would not comment on a possible appeal. His sentencing hearing is scheduled for June 16th.