LaFAYETTE, Ga. — Another search for missing Walker County 911 dispatcher Theresa Parker produced no new evidence Thursday, but investigators said they plan to keep looking.
“We have not given up hope,” said Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson. “We are still looking in areas and crossing them off as we go.”
Investigators said they are still search on a weekly basis, looking for clues or the body of Mrs. Parker.
Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent James Harris said authorities have used satellite technology, have searched in other wells and cisterns, and have interviewed more than 100 witnesses since Mrs. Parker disappeared on March 21, 2007.
“Just because people don’t hear it, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening,” Agent Harris said about the investigation.
Sheriff’s officers and the GBI on Thursday had help from the Department of Natural Resources and Walker Water Authority as they searched the abandoned well south of LaFayette and the Blue Hole, a deep, spring-fed water hole near the base of Pigeon Mountain.
The a former Walker County 911 dispatcher, has been missing for more than a year. Her estranged husband, former LaFayette police officer Sam Parker, is charged with her murder and is jailed in a neighboring county awaiting trial.
They used a robotic camera, or main crawler, typically used to navigate sewer or water pipes to search for leaks.
Authorities searched the well before Department of Transportation officials sealed it off, then moved to the base of Pigeon Mountain in an effort to peer inside the underwater cave in the Blue Hole. Equipment malfunctioned before the search was complete.
Also Thursday, authorities also detonated C4 explosives that were found in Mr. Parker’s police locker at the beginning of the investigation. He was fired from the city’s police department after the plastic explosives material and blasting caps were found.
Officials detonated the material about three miles away from Pigeon Mountain, and said the explosion left a crater three feet deep in the ground.
Special Agent Harris said authorities had not planned on charging Mr. Parker with having the explosives because details surrounding the situation were too murky. Mr. Parker has said in the past the explosives were for training purposes.
Walker County Detective Lt. Burt Cagle said the public may not realize how much authorities still search for Mrs. Parker. A special office is still in place at the Sheriff’s Department for investigators on the case, and they are following up weekly on any tips received, he said.
Lt. Cagle said authorities continue to piece together evidence, even though they believe they were 50 hours behind the crime before the investigation was begun.
Rome Judicial Circuit District Attorney Leigh Patterson has asked investigators not to talk about the case, so questions linger in the minds of the public. Many wonder when and where the trial will be held, and what will happen to Ben Chaffin — Sam Parker’s friend and former fellow officer. He is charged with four felonies related to the case and is out on bond awaiting trial.
“He is just there when we need him,” Mr. Harris said. “We can deal with him anytime.”
When the case is ready for trial is largely up to the lawyers and judges, authorities said. Public Defender David Dunn has been appointed to represent Mr. Parker.
“David has got a lot of work to do,” Agent Harris said. “I’ve had 13 months to accumulate stuff and build my file. Nobody is putting it off, but it has got to be done right, and he wants to make sure he has time to go through everything.”
He said the prosecutor also has other cases, so it will take time before Mr. Parker goes to trial.
Like many in the area, Lt. Cagle said he knew both Sam and Theresa Parker.
“Theresa was one of the finest individuals,” he said. “She was a quiet person. She would speak to you anytime. She was always in a real pleasant mood.”
Everyday while driving home, Lt. Cagle said he passes a billboard with her photo on it and wonders where she is.
Authorities acknowledge the huge area of wooded and rough terrain makes their task difficult. Sheriff Wilson reminds area property owners to search their own land for clues.
“Sam Parker said it best,” Lt. Cagle said about statements witnesses have attributed to the suspect. “We live in a vast wilderness here, and somebody could kill someone and hide the body and nobody would ever find it, and that is true.”
WHOM TO CONTACT
Anyone with information about the Theresa Parker case is asked to call the GBI tip line at (706) 639-2255. Callers may remain anonymous.