Georgia: Sam Parker talks about life in jail

Georgia: Sam Parker talks about life in jail

April 17th, 2009 by Chloé Morrison in Georgia

Former LaFayette, Ga., Police Officer Sam Parker said he misses the little things - walking on grass, hearing birds, riding in a car.

From behind a clear window, holding a phone to his ear in the Catoosa County Jail, Mr. Parker also recently said some of what he's lost since being jailed and charged with his wife's murder are more tangible.

"I lost my house," he said during a January jail visit.

Mr. Parker has been locked up in Catoosa County, Ga., for more than a year, awaiting trial for a crime he has denied committing.

When asked how he is doing, he answers, "I've been better," half-smiling, seeming to acknowledge the irony of the question considering his imprisoned position.

He was soft-spoken and polite - a considerable contrast to the descriptions of him at his 2007 arraignment, when witnesses testified that he has a history of rage and violence.

Mr. Parker, who said he is under constant surveillance while in jail, talked about altercations with other inmates. He said he usually tried not to retaliate but on occasion was put in solitary confinement anyway.

He is kept in a cell block with dozens of other men, who are charged with an array of crimes as minor as driving with a suspended license or as serious as murder, officials said.

Mr. Parker said he doesn't make friends in jail, although there are some people in his cell block he knew from his time as a policeman. He can't truly trust anyone he meets in there, he said, but has found some he can talk with to help pass the time.

He sleeps in a bunk bed and is served two meals a day, one in the morning and another in the evening. He gets 15 minutes of visitation time twice a week.

He said he has caught up on enough sleep for two lifetimes. He occasionally gets to watch television, and he reads - books he said he should have read more closely in college.

LaFayette resident Monty Morrison, who knew both Sam and Theresa Parker, said interest in the case - which was once highly publicized and drew national attention - has died down.

"It has not been a topic of conversation," he said Tuesday. "It comes up every now and then."

For others, the pain of losing Mrs. Parker is constantly present.

Her former boss, Walker County 911 director David Ashburn, said he and the emergency operators who knew her still think about their lost co-worker all the time.

"You're glad it is moving forward, but still sad that there is no Theresa," Mr. Ashburn said.

Mrs. Parker's family is thinking of organizing a prayer request, asking area residents to pray for justice, her brother-in-law John Wilson said. The family can't find closure until they find Mrs. Parker, Mr. Wilson said, adding that Mrs. Parker was just like a sister to him.

"Every now and then a tear will come down my cheek thinking about her," he said.