By Chloe Morrison
LaFAYETTE, Ga. -- As the search for missing Walker County 911 dispatcher Theresa Parker continued with another ground search Friday, her estranged husband Sam Parker was fired for having plastic explosives stored in his locker at the police station, officials said.
Mrs. Parker has been missing 25 days, and Georgia Bureau of Investigation officials have called Mr. Parker is a "person of interest" in the case.
But LaFayette Public Safety Director Tommy Freeman stressed that Mr. Parker's dismissal as a sergeant from the LaFayette Police Department had nothing to do with the disappearance of Mrs. Parker, except that was the reason the GBI did the search.
"His termination came about in regard to a search warrant that was executed by the (Georgia Bureau of Investigation) on his locker," Mr. Freeman said, noting the "locker contained some (blasting caps) and a small amount of C4."
C4 is a common variety of military plastic explosive.
Mr. Parker had been suspended without pay. Possession of the explosives violated department policy and state law, Mr. Freeman said.
He said Mr. Parker, 51, told him the C4 and blasting caps belonged to the police department and he was storing them.
Mr. Freeman, in his fourth week with the department said he found no evidence to support that. And he said in his 32 years in law enforcement, he has never heard of a police department buying plastic explosives.
He said no one with the department is trained to handle such explosives, and it is against department policy to keep evidence in a personal locker, he said.
"Sam has pretty much stated that the explosives and the blasting caps were given to him some 12 or more years ago," Mr. Freeman said. "Other than that, I have no idea where he may have gotten them."
The explosives were removed by a trained GBI official.
"The amount of explosives, if they were detonated, would have probably destroyed the locker room," Mr. Freeman said.
Mr. Parker had been with the department for more than 20 years. According to his personnel files, he worked for the department two times, once starting in 1980 and was rehired in 1989.
Meanwhile, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said that FBI and other law enforcement searched some 100 acres near the Ridgeway community Friday.
FBI cadaver dogs were used but "nothing substantial was found," the sheriff said. The search was a result of a tip, Sheriff Wilson said. Investigators also continue to work behind the scenes, he said.
Jonathan Wilson, Mrs. Parker's brother-in-law, said Gov. Sonny Perdue's office has approved a $1,000 reward for information leading to Mrs. Parker's whereabouts. Mr. Wilson, who is not related to the sheriff Wilson, said he is adding $1,000 to the reward and is seeking help from others to boost the sum.
Mr. Wilson also said the family is thankful for the help from volunteers in searching for Mrs. Parker.
"If people keep their eyes open somebody is going to spot her one day," the family spokesman said.
Family members also said they are getting desperate for any new information.
"The family has kind of resorted to any possible lead," said Mrs. Parker's brother-in-law.
The family has gotten calls from psychics and although investigators are not currently entertaining help from them, the family is using any means possible.
He said his wife (Theresa's sister) "is overjoyed because she has something that is helping her."
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