published Thursday, January 28th, 2010

Story on Sam Parker trial to air Saturday on CBS

Audio clip

Tracy Smith

On Saturday night, network TV will return to the Sam Parker murder trial in LaFayette, Ga.

The CBS show "48 Hours Mystery" will air "The Secret," an episode on the case that captivated media for three weeks last fall.

The show will tell examine the story of former LaFayette police officer Sam Parker, who was convicted of murdering his wife, Walker County 911 operator Theresa Parker. She disappeared in March 2007, and her body has never been found.

"It's one of those stories where you think maybe you know what happened, then you find out a little more information, and then suddenly you find out a little more information, and then suddenly there's a twist and maybe you don't know what happened," said Tracy Smith, a CBS correspondent who reported the story for "48 Hours."

Ms. Smith and CBS camera crews filmed the trial and returned afterwards to interview key characters in the case to create "a fuller picture of what happened," she said.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Dan Henry Vehicles pass a sign on Corinth Road near the Parker residence in LaFayette, Ga., where authorities arrested Sam Parker in conjunction with the disappearance of his wife Theresa Parker nearly a year ago.

"I think even if you followed the Parker case, there will still be things surprising or new to you in this hour," she said. "We got a chance to talk with the jury; you haven't heard a lot from the jury."

After Mrs. Parker disappeared, hundreds of volunteers spent weeks searching for her, attracting attention from more than a dozen national media outlets.

In February 2008, Mr. Parker was charged with killing his wife and a jury convicted him on Sept. 4, 2009. He was sentenced to life in prison.

A preview of the "48 Hours" broadcast on the CBS Web site runs less than a minute and features 911 calls about Mrs. Parker's disappearance and interview clips with Sam Parker, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson and others involved in the trial.

Floyd County District Attorney Leigh Patterson, who prosecuted Mr. Parker, spoke with "48 Hours" for the episode.

"I think that the case was probably very interesting to the media because you've got someone who's disappeared who still has not been found," Ms. Patterson said in an interview Wednesday.

She plans to watch the episode, she said, partly to see how producers "put all of the interviews together."

Lookout Mountain Public Defender David Dunn will be watching, too. Mr. Dunn still represents Mr. Parker, who is appealing his conviction to the Georgia Supreme Court.

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Dispatcher's friend keeps busy with vigils, fundraisers

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Mr. Dunn said he decided to cooperate with "48 Hours" to ensure that the story was told fairly.

"I guess we'll see on Saturday night whether that happened or not," Mr. Dunn said.

He admitted that, since his client is still appealing his conviction, the national media attention makes him a little nervous.

"(The episode) certainly could figure into a future trial," he said. "That will depend on the objectivity of the piece."

Ms. Smith said it wasn't hard to find willing interview subjects. Family and friends of Mrs. Parker want to see her remembered, while those who support Mr. Parker believe he's been misrepresented and want his side of the story told, she said

"This story is incredibly intriguing," she said. "There's no crime scene, no murder weapon, no body. Where is Theresa?"


What: "The Secret," episode of "48 Hours Mystery" on the Sam Parker murder trial in LaFayette, Ga.

When: 10 p.m. Saturday on CBS

Preview: Go to and click on the "48 Hours Mystery" tab.

about Todd South...

Todd South covers courts, poverty, technology, military and veterans for the Times Free Press. He has worked at the paper since 2008 and previously covered crime and safety in Southeast Tennessee and North Georgia. Todd’s hometown is Dodge City, Kan. He served five years in the U.S. Marine Corps and deployed to Iraq before returning to school for his journalism degree from the University of Georgia. Todd previously worked at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. Contact ...

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