The Death of Theresa Parker: husband convicted but is he guilty of murder?

theresaparker911 dispatcher Theresa Parker, 42, went missing from Lafayette, Walker County, Georgia on March 21, 2007. Her body was found in September 2010, three years after she went missing. Despite there being no physical evidence linking him to her murder, her police officer husband, Sam Parker, was convicted of her murder.

It was reported from Theresa’s friends and family that the marriage between Sam and Theresa was a rocky one, both initiating fights with the other on many occasions. Theresa had threatened divorce a few times before, but always went back to him. In March 2007, still not quite sure leaving him was what she wanted to do, Theresa decided to end the marriage. She had just found a nice apartment and was in the process of moving into it when she disappeared.

Her sister, Christina Hall, saw Theresa on the night of March 21st.  Hall said her sister was very excited about the move and was looking forward to spending more time with her family.

Hall did not talk to her sister the following day. At 6:00 a.m. on March 22, Theresa’s friend and co-worker, Rhonda Knox became worried after receiving a phone call from Theresa’s phone. When she answered, the caller paused for a few seconds, then hung up. That was out of character for Theresa because she would never do that, Knox had said.

Knox tried calling Theresa back but the call went to voice mail. She then called Sam’s house. No answer there either.

Worried, Knox asked police officer and friend Shane Green to go check on Theresa. He knocked on the doors. No answer. While on the phone with Knox, she told him to check the garage because Theresa always parked her car there. So Green did, and there was no car. Sam’s patrol car was in there and his pickup truck was parked outside. But no signs of Theresa were present.

Later that day, Theresa’s SUV mysteriously arrived back at the house, but no one saw who drove it back, whether it was Theresa or someone else.

On Friday, March 23, Hall had repeatedly called her sister but Theresa never answered her phone. Sam told Hall that he went fishing that morning on March 21 and when he left, Theresa’s car was in the garage.

Everyone began calling Theresa, including Sam. She never answered.

More than 24 hours had passed with no word from Theresa. Then, on Saturday, March 24, her family decided to call the police to report her missing.

When asked by police where he was the night of her disappearance, Sam replied that sam-parkerhe was in his pickup truck all night. Cops became suspicious because three witnesses reported Sam’s truck being at Sam and Theresa’s house on Thursday morning.

LE pulled Sam’s cell phone records and discovered that he had called Theresa two times in the early morning hours of March 22nd. Sam told them he had last spoken with her around 7:30 p.m. on the 21st when she was loading her stuff into her car to take to her new apartment.

A crime scene specialist was brought it to investigate Theresa’s Toyota Forerunner. He found some blood on the back of the SUV, which later proved to be from Theresa with Sam’s DNA mixed in. I don’t know how much blood was found, though, but it didn’t sound like a lot. It was also reported that the back had recently been vacuumed.

Law enforcement and volunteers performed a massive search for Theresa through the woods where Sam grew up in and knew very well. They drained and searched ponds and combed through the local landfill.

“We provided [dogs] a scent of Mr. Parker’s scent off his clothes and also off his patrol car,” Special Agent Marc Veazey said. “They ran as they alerted to his scent, all up this hill, and back down this way as indicating he had been here.”

They did not find Theresa or any evidence leading them to her.

Authorities even searched Sam’s home five times. They confiscated a collection of old guns and rifles, but investigators didn’t believe they were connected to Theresa’s disappearance.

“I told ’em, y’all … didn’t even search her closet, you didn’t look through her personal stuff. You went in and you looked for things and took things of mine and only looked at me,” Sam told Smith.

Nearly one year after his wife disappeared, Sam was arrested and tried for her murder.

During the trial, Theresa’s friends and family told the court that Sam was abusive and obsessive. He had accused Theresa of cheating on him on several occasions. However, not once was it mentioned that Sam had actually physically hurt Theresa. Apparently, it was more mental abuse, which they both were capable of doing, according to Sam’s brother, Kenneth Parker.

The week before Theresa disappeared, she traveled to Gatlinburg, Tennessee and stayed at the Honey Bee Hide-a-Way. Theresa wanted a quick get-away before her move and the divorce. Theresa told Hall that she was going alone. But Sam wasn’t convinced. He suspected she had gone with another man, so he called the lodge and convinced the desk clerk to send him Theresa’s reservation. TWO people were listed as staying in Theresa’s room and Theresa registered under the last name of Barker, instead of Parker. The name could have been error on the clerk’s part, but the number of people listed show’s that she obviously, at the very least, invited someone to stay with her. The defense believes it was Shane Green, the very same officer sent by Knox to check on Theresa the morning of Thursday, March 22. Green denied being at the cabin and having an affair with Theresa.

When Theresa went missing, Sam told police he believed she ran off to Mexico with a guy named Elvis. I know, it sounds really far-fetched, but Theresa had vacationed in Mexico with her nieces and on that trip they met a resort entertainer named Elvis. Investigators headed to Cancun to check it out, but apparently Elvis must have had an alibi.
Sam’s second wife, Keila Beaird, told the court that he had threatened to kill her and dispose of her body where nobody would ever find it.
According to Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), Special Agent James Harris, “He told everybody in Walker County, but a couple, that he knew how to get rid of a body and no one [would] ever find it. He’d talk about puttin’ ’em in ponds and the turtles would eat ’em.”

Sam’s good friend and co-worker, Ben Chaffin claimed that on March 21st Sam called him and told him he shot Theresa in the head and buried her body in a place where it would be hard to find. Now, most people would see this as what sealed the deal, but it seems that Chaffin had given investigators FIVE different stories and he had been arrested for helping Sam hack into Theresa’s computer. The prosecution gave him immunity in exchange for testifying.

In his very first conversation with GBI, Chaffin failed to tell this to them, claiming in court that he forgot. Patterson defended this on “48 Hours Mystery” by saying, “When we talked to him, it became very clear to us that he was very, very close to Sam Parker. The person that he looked at as a father, as a brother, had done somethin’ so terrible he couldn’t wrap his mind around it.”Prosecution’s theory was Sam killed Theresa with a choke hold. Photos showing bruises on the inside of Sam’s right arm were apparently a significant clue to what happened.”What we felt was, that Mr. Parker, who is known to abuse choke holds in the past, had used this maneuver on Theresa and that she had fought back by putting her hands up. And that’s what left the bruises on the inside of his arm,” explained FBI Special Agent Marc Veazey.”I think she fought for her life at the end. And those bruises are evidence of that,” said Prosecutor Leigh Patterson.Patterson gave the courtroom a dramatic demonstration of the rear naked choke hold, which she believes Sam used to kill his wife. I saw the demonstration on “48 Hours Mystery” and to me, it proved nothing. According to the demonstration, Theresa would have put her hands on the outside of Sam’s arm, not the inside. Sam had bruises on the inside of his arm, and they did not look like marks from fingers.

On September 3, 2009, Sam was found guilty of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. 
One year later, in September 2010, Theresa’s remains were found. Some reports say they were found behind a cornfield in Chattooga County. Others say they were found along the banks of the Chattooga River. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) who originally investigated Theresa’s disappearance, said Theresa was murdered despite there being no evidence on the remains that led them to this conclusion. 
To read my opinion on this case, please click here.

Source: 48 Hours Mystery

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Author: truecrimediva

True crime blogger

  • Katherine Owens

    I know this is months behind but I felt overwhelmed to vent; and after I read your blog entry about the case, I knew that it would be bug me to death if I didn't reply to it. So, as I was watching the usual 4 billion episodes of 48 Hours tonight, this one came on. Let me explain, I watch an ungodly amount of crime documentaries (it's been a weird passion of mine since I was a teenager) and out of all of the hundreds that I've seen, NONE have left me as frustrated and pissed off as the Parker case. You bring up SO MANY reasonable (not to mention sensible) arguments for why this case was so….just sloppy and bias…and kind of just wrong. Putting aside that I feel like no unbiased jury would ever convict an individual of 1st degree murder with such a lack of forensic evidence (and let's be honest, even the circumstantial evidence was a bit dicey and unfounded for my taste), there were so many aspects of the case that were incomplete. Let's begin with the weekend at the cabin. Why would Mrs. Parker make a reservation for 2 and why was the reservation made under the name “Barker”? The prosecution argued that she was alone and I don't recall any explanations on why the name was wrong. Two errors on her reservation? That's sketchy. It's real sketchy. Yeah, it could have been clerical errors. Yeah, there may have been a misunderstanding via the phone reservation, but either way, that would be pushing it. If she loved going there so much, then why didn't we see her previous reservations? I'd like to see the differentiations between her last reservation and all the others she made. I'd like to hear from the person that took her reservation. Just something…anything! The other big problem I have is with the bruising. Really? REALLY? If I was put into a choke hold, I'm scratching my way out. If she had enough leverage to grab his arm, then she had the ability to scratch the hell out of him. No scratches. None. It just doesn't make sense. I could go on and on. You basically point out every problem I have with this case. I wish there was some way these things could be considered prior to this man's request for a retrial. I don't know if he is guilty or not and that's the EXACT reason every lead, avenue, etc, etc, should be investigated and exhausted by law enforcement. Thank you for your post!! –Katy

    • Dan Holloway

      You are right. He may have done it but they did NOT prove him guilty – or even ‘indicate strongly’ that he did. This trial was a farce.