By Chloe Morrison
Family and friends of missing Walker County dispatcher Theresa Parker are planning a benefit dinner to continue fundraising efforts to boost the reward for their loved one.
The family established an account at the Bank of LaFayette to gather contributions in addition to the $1,000 reward from Gov. Sonny Perdue, which will be awarded to anyone with information that leads to Mrs. Parker's recovery.
Mrs. Parker's brother-in-law Jonathan Wilson said more than $2,000 has been added to the account, mostly from small, individual contributions. Mr. Wilson said he is also going to contact Gov. Perdue's office and plea for more money.
With no new leads, he said the only thing the family knows to do is gather as much money as possible, in the hopes that it will lead someone with information to come forward.
"If it took every last penny I've ever made to find her, it would be worth it," Mr. Wilson said.
Walker 911 dispatcher Rebecca Brown, who worked with Mrs. Parker for nine years, said fundraising efforts are going to continue even after Mrs. Parker is found. Family and friends want to raise money for domestic violence awareness, Ms. Brown said.
According to Walker County 911 logs, police responded to domestic disturbance calls at the Parker residence on at least two occasions, once in 2002 and once in 2004.
"(Theresa) was a victim of domestic violence in her relationship," Ms. Brown said. "It is important to get her story out because if we can save one person, then it is worth it."
No one has been charged in connection with her disappearance, but GBI agents have said her husband, former LaFayette Police Department Sgt. Sam Parker, is a "person of interest" in the investigation. Mr. Parker was fired from the department after explosives were found in his locker at the department.
The family is also considering other events, such as a community yard sale, to raise money, Mr. Wilson said. Working towards Mrs. Parker's recovery and being with the community is somewhat soothing to the family, Mr. Wilson said.
"It gives us hope that people aren't just going to give up on her," he said.
Ms. Brown said the previous vigils that have been held are upsetting and she hopes to focus on fellowship at the benefit dinner.
"This is for happier times," she said. "(Theresa) was a happy, loving person and we want to focus on (more) than the sadness of it. (This event) will be focused on the kids... and getting everybody together."
At the benefit dinner, barbecue plates will be available for adults and there will be hot dogs for children, Ms. Brown said. There will also be inflatable toys and face painting for children and a local band will perform, she said.
"It helps to get together with the community to keep everyone focused on (Theresa)," Ms. Brown said.
Mrs. Parker disappeared on March 21.
Anyone with information about Mrs. Parker should cal the tip line at (706) 639-2255.
E-mail Chloe Morrison at firstname.lastname@example.org