By Chloe Morrison
Sam Parker, estranged husband of missing Walker County 911 dispatcher Theresa Parker, has been suspended from the LaFayette Police Department without pay, said LaFayette Public Safety Director Tommy Freeman.
Meanwhile, officials are still investigating, but will try to get some rest over the Easter holiday weekend, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said. Family members also said they will have another vigil for Mrs. Parker next week.
Jonathan Wilson, brother-in-law of Mrs. Parker, had not heard about Sgt. Parker's suspension until he was contacted by the Times Free Press. With the announcement, the family's suspicion of Sgt. Parker increases, Mr. Wilson said. Mr. Wilson is not related to Sheriff Wilson.
"This is definitely surprising," he said. "Suspension without pay is not good. Something is going on."
He said Sgt. Parker's suspension raises eyes brows.
"You can't help it," he said. "Your suspicion just grows and grows."
Sheriff Wilson said leads and tips have waned in recent days, slowing the case's development. Mr. Wilson said waiting for new developments in the case is tough.
"Not knowing is really killing (the family)," he said.
Mr. Freeman said Sgt. Parker was suspended Thursday pending review of Mr. Freeman's recommendation by City Manager Johnnie Arnold. Mr. Arnold is out of the office until Monday and could not immediately be reached for comment.
Mr. Freeman said Sgt. Parker has five days to appeal his suspension in writing. He said the violation has nothing to do with the investigation into the disappearance of Mrs. Parker, although Sgt. Parker is a "person of interest" in the case, said Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials.
"The suspension was due to violations of department policy and the city personnel policy," Mr. Freeman said in a prepared statement. "Sgt. Parker has the right to appeal and in light of that, I cannot comment any further on this situation."
Mr. Freeman said he won't comment further until the option for appeal has expired.
Another LaFayette officer, Cpl. Harbin "Ben" Chaffin, was arrested on a felony charge of making false statement to investigators in the case. He was released on $5,000 bond.
Mr. Freeman is the new chief for LaFayette. He replaced Charles "Dino" Richardson after he died of lung cancer in August. When Mr. Freeman came in he brought in new policies, he said. He required all employees for sign a code of ethics and an oath of office.
The oath of office requires that officers, in part, "faithfully and impartially discharge the duties of a sworn law enforcement officer." It also says that officers cannot be the holder of any unaccounted for public money and that officers must obey instructions from higher officers.
The code of ethics says, in part, "It is my duty to serve mankind, to safe guard lives and property, to protect the innocent against deception, the weak against oppression or intimidation, and the peaceful the peaceful against violence and disorder, and to respect the Constitutional Rights of all men to liberty, equality and justice."
Mrs. Parker has been missing since March 21. She and Sgt. Parker were in the process of a divorce when she disappeared.
E-mail Chloe Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org