published Thursday, September 23rd, 2010

Find brings back ‘hurt’

Article: Parker niece: 'She was the glue in the family'

Article: Theresa Parker laid to rest

Article: Crowds gather to grieve with Parker family

Article: Funeral services set for slain Walker County dispatcher Theresa Parker

Article: GBI confirms Parker was a homicide victim

Article: Examination of Parker bones complete

Article: Examination of Parker’s remains complete

Article: Keychain led to ID of Parker

Article: Theresa Parker's remains finally found

Video: Theresa Parker's body found

Article: Family relieved that Theresa Parker's remains have been found, sheriff says

Article: Find brings back ‘hurt’

Slideshow: Theresa Parker's remains finally found

Article:Parker trial turns media spotlight on Walker County

Article: Jury deliberations continue in Parker slaying trial

Article: Testimony gives insight into culture of police

Article: Parker chooses not to testify

Article: State rests its case against former officer Sam Parker

Article: Witnesses testify to violence, threats by Sam Parker

Article: Officers express doubts on Parker

Article: Friend says Parker acted normal on trip

Article: Cadaver dogs out of Parker trial

Article: Friend asked deputies to check on Mrs. Parker

Article: Judge keeps Parker in jail

Article: Chattanooga: Judge denies separation of charges for Parker

PDF: Indictment against Sam Parker and motions from defense lawyers and prosecutors

Article: Georgia: Sam Parker talks about life in jail

Article: Investigators use robotic camera to search well, Blue Hole for clues or body of Theresa Parker

Judge denies bond for Sam Parker

Parker bond pending judge’s decision

Parker facing more charges

Husband arrested in missing dispatcher case

Walker County 911 dispatcher missing since March 21

International investigator, K-9 dog join Parker search

Dispatcher's family plans vigil to keep search alive

Officer to face extradition on charges in missing dispatcher case

LaFayette Police officer fired for having explosives

Sheriff starts tip line for Parker case

Dispatcher's family tries to move on as questions persist

Message boards new turf in Parker case

Missing dispatcher fundraiser planned

New prosecutor accepts missing woman case

Missing woman's husband fired

Dispatcher's friend keeps busy with vigils, fundraisers

Family of missing woman announces launch of Web site

Theresa Parker family creates Web site

Illinois case mirrors Parker's

Mrs. Parker's 911 job filled

LaFayette officer suspended without pay

Husband of missing dispatcher Theresa Parker says he's been singled out unfairly

Search continues for dispatcher

LaFayette officer charged with making false statements in Parker investigation

When a loved one is missing

Pond draining comes up empty

Authorities draining pond in dispatcher search

Benefit for missing woman seeks smiles

Lawyer to Parker: Stop talking

LaFAYETTE, Ga. — For more than three years, Theresa Parker’s family just knew she was dead.

They suffered through months of fruitless searches for her body. They watched as the national media descended on her North Georgia neighborhood. They sat in court during the trial that convicted her husband Sam Parker of murder.

But because her body was still missing, they kept hearing the same thing from friends and others in the community: Maybe she just ran away from an abusive relationship. Maybe she’s alive. Maybe.

On Wednesday, the maybes came to a crashing halt when police announced that skeletal remains pulled from the Chattooga River were Parker’s.

“This kind of makes all our fears a reality,” said John Wilson, Theresa Parker’s brother-in-law. “It just brings all the hurt back. This is all just a shock to us. We don’t even know what to do next. We don’t even know when she’ll be turned over to us.”

Now, Wilson said, there’s no question that Sam Parker, a former LaFayette police officer, murdered his estranged wife, who worked as a 911 dispatcher for Walker County.

  • photo
    Staff Photo by Laura-Chase McGehee Chattooga County Sheriff John Everett, left, stands at the podium along side Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson, right, during a press conference at the Walker County Commissioners' Office detailing the findings of the remains of Theresa Parker, the wife of former Walker County Sheriff Sam Parker who is has been convicted and is serving a life sentence. Everett was the Sheriff on location while the body was being recovered.

“At the trial everyone said Theresa ran away,” he said. “This lets people see the truth. She definitely didn’t deserve being placed where she was. She was such a good, caring soul. She didn’t deserve her fate.”

After three years of local and state police combing four counties in Northwest Georgia for Theresa Parker’s body, her remains were discovered Monday by a farmer in Chattooga County, Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said. They were found next to a cornfield, about 100 feet from the Chattooga River near the Alabama state line.

“It’s just a miracle that he stumbled upon it,” Sheriff Wilson said at a news conference Wednesday evening.

The spot where her remains were found was about 10 miles from where Sam Parker grew up in Trion, Ga., a place where he went to fish and knew well, Sheriff Wilson said.

Georgia Bureau of Investigation investigators, along with the Walker sheriff’s office, have not stopped looking for Theresa Parker’s body since she went missing in March 2007, said GBI special agent Jerry Scott.

“The river has been a concern since Day One, but that general area was not part of it,” Scott said.

Sam Parker, who is serving a life sentence at the Georgia State Prison in Reidsville, filed a motion for a new trial last year. David Dunn, the public defender who represents Parker, said he needs the transcripts from the first three-week trial before they can move forward with the appeal.

He said the appeal was filed within a month of the trial, but he’s still waiting for the transcripts.

Dunn said he didn’t want to comment about the fact that Theresa Parker’s body was found.

During his trial, part of Sam Parker’s defense was that his estranged wife had run away to Mexico or was hiding from him, said Assistant District Attorney Leigh Patterson, who prosecuted the case.

“I think we proved that wasn’t true at trial,” Patterson said. “She would never put her family through that kind of turmoil and suffering.”

After a GBI forensic test identified the remains as Theresa Parker through dental records, word began to spread Wednesday afternoon among Walker County public safety officials.

Theresa Parker began working at the Walker County 911 Center in 1992 and was known and loved throughout the staff, said David Ashburn, Walker County 911 director.

When told her body had been found, he called in extra dispatchers before breaking the news to his employees, worried their reactions would be intense, he said.

He was right. Several dispatchers became so upset they had to leave their radios when they were told, Ashburn said.

“It’s a great day because we have an answer,” he said. “It’s a terrible day because we didn’t get the answer we wanted.”

The next step is to find out how she was killed and then her remains can be returned to her family, Sheriff Wilson said.

“We can send her back home and let her family give her a proper burial, a proper memorial service that she so desperately deserves,” he said.

John Wilson said family members had always hoped Sam Parker would admit to where he had hid her remains. Now that her remains have been found, he has only one question for the convicted murderer.

“I would like to know why,” he said. “That’s what I would like to know.”

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about Joan Garrett McClane...

Joan Garrett McClane has been a staff writer for the Times Free Press since August 2007. Before becoming a general assignment writer for the paper, she wrote about business, higher education and the court systems. She grew up the oldest of five sisters near Birmingham, Ala., and graduated with a master's and bachelor's degrees in journalism from the University of Alabama. Before landing her first full-time job as a reporter at the Times Free Press, ...

about Joy Lukachick Smith...

Joy Lukachick Smith is the city government reporter for the Chattanooga Times Free Press. Since 2009, she's covered crime and court systems in North Georgia and rural Tennessee, landed an exclusive in-prison interview with a former cop convicted of killing his wife, exposed impropriety in an FBI-led, child-sex online sting and exposed corruption in government agencies. Earlier this year, Smith won the Malcolm Law Memorial Award for Investigative Reporting. She also won first place in ...

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walther said...

The state flag they are standing in front of is not the current flag. I know some individuals refuse to let go of the Confederate battle emblem, but I would think an official state agency or city would have to. It's like flying a 48-star American flag because it was used in WWII.

September 23, 2010 at 1:34 p.m.
Vigilante said...

I just have to say I think this was a well-written story. Thank you.

September 23, 2010 at 2:51 p.m.
jabbo77 said...

I agree with walther, it's time to let it go!!

September 23, 2010 at 4:50 p.m.
Jim111 said...

Here we have officials showing contempt for the rule of law by flying a flag that not only was replaced by the Georgia Assembly but confirmed by a vote of the people. No wonder this county has police officers murdering people and citizens throwing bodies on the woods when paid to dispose of them honorably. If the government has no respect for law how can you expect the citizens to?

It is just so sad that the solemness of this horrible time for the family has to be detracted from by the actions of those with an agenda.

September 23, 2010 at 7:16 p.m.
kate said...

seriously folks! they just found theresa parker after a 3.5 year search and all you can comment on is the flag????? what is wrong with you people?

September 23, 2010 at 9:38 p.m.
whatever said...

Flag>Human tragedy.

This new math is confusing.

September 23, 2010 at 9:41 p.m.
Wilder said...

The humorous thing about the people who are so appalled by the "Confederate" flag is that they don't know enough about history to realize that the new Georgia flag is also a "Confederate" flag. It is more similiar to the original than the one they replaced.

First National Flag of the Confederacy, 1861-1863, "Stars and Bars":

Georgia State Flag, Current:

September 23, 2010 at 10:16 p.m.
sideviews said...

Sheriff Steve Wilson appears to point the way in front of the old stars and bars flag. Is that the image he seeks for Walker County in the 21st century? Somebody tell the sheriff to watch his back

September 23, 2010 at 10:50 p.m.
Wilder said...

Sideviews, It is not the "Stars and Bars". That would be Georgia's current state flag.

September 24, 2010 at 10:13 a.m.
Jim111 said...


No one said "Confederate Flag". The words by Walther were "the confederate battle emblem". The Southern Cross or Cross of St. Andrew is well known by all as the symbol or "emblem" of the confederacy and is a part of the flag that was replaced (and displayed at the press conference) with the current flag (after another flag previous to this one if you wish to nit pick more).

The point though still is the officials of this county chose to snub their nose at the laws they are elected or appointed to uphold. It was while holding a press conference regarding the tragic results of another official who also ignored the laws he was sworn to uphold.

See the irony and the tragedy here?

As for others making an issue of this at this time of sorrow for the family, it was these officials who chose to use this time to promote an agenda. If they had not chosen to display it at this time, there would be no controversy at this time. They got exactly what they wanted and the full responsibility of this controversy is on their shoulders and no one else.

September 24, 2010 at 6:07 p.m.
SavartiTN said...

I sure hope that this news causes other power tripping wife murdering body disposing husbands to quake in their shoes.

September 24, 2010 at 6:23 p.m.
EOC713 said...

YOU people NEED to let it go. This story is about my friend that is no longer with me and not the display of a flag. The flag is displayed because it USED to be our flag. Stop thinking about your self and have respect for the true reason for the story.

October 1, 2010 at 4:06 p.m.
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