Charles Leon Parker Sr., 70, was accused of brutal attacks on his stepdaughter from the time she was 9 until she was 11 more than three decades ago. He had been in a medical correctional facility in South Carolina awaiting trial in Douglas County when he died Tuesday.
His stepdaughter is a Temple resident.
Parker was on the “Most Wanted” list and was the subject of a massive manhunt that spanned 29 years. He was originally arrested on the charges in November 1982, but he disappeared in February 1983. He had been released on a $25,000 bond after being indicted on three counts of child molestation and two counts of incest in January 1983.
Parker had managed to avoid the law despite being the subject of searches and pieces on John Walsh’s “America’s Most Wanted.” It wasn’t until April 27 of last year when Parker’s run ended when he was taken into custody in Madison County, Fla., where officers arrested Parker following a traffic stop.
Douglas County District Attorney David McDade confirmed Parker’s death Tuesday morning. Parker had suffered a broken neck in a fall while at the Douglas County Jail last year. He had been housed at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta for a long period and then was transferred to the medical facility late last year. Recently, he had appeared at hearings in a hospital bed, unable to move or stand.
Parker had a hearing scheduled for Friday.
“Justice was served today,” said McDade. “It may not be something that we can see with our eyes, but I truly believe Charles Parker is facing a more severe judgment than our courts could ever allow. His last breath wasn’t in freedom, it was in confinement. His time on the run came to an end last summer, and the healing process for this victim began. I hope this ending can bring closure to a chapter in this victim’s life.
“I want to thank everyone involved in this 29-year pursuit. Their tireless effort did not go in vain. I am confident that Parker’s last breath brought a new beginning for our victim.”
Parker’s stepdaughter, Kimberly Lovell, now a 43-year-old Temple resident, has publicly faced the man she said terrorized her and was ready to face him in court. Lovell has been open about her ordeal, hoping to encourage others who have been victimized to be strong. Lovell even shared her story of being too afraid to tell anyone because of Parker’s death threats until she told a school counselor, who then put the wheels in motion to have Parker arrested.
Lovell was called by McDade’s office with the news Tuesday. That caught her by surprise and when contacted for comment she asked for some time to absorb the latest in the case. Then, late Tuesday posted her feelings to her Facebook friends.
“I’m going to be very honest about how I really feel about this,” Lovell wrote. “I wanted the closure and public acknowledgment that he was a monster. However – God wanted him more than me because his reservation to hell came due. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get the closure I needed. The DA’s office was so full of compassion for me for every single step of the way and I thank them for that.”
Parker had been in bad health since being taken into custody, so his death was not totally unexpected. He was first hospitalized after seeing his bond denied last May. Parker complained of chest pains and blood clots were discovered in his leg while at WellStar Douglas Hospital. He was hospitalized for about three weeks before being returned to the Douglas County Jail.
While no cause of death was released, Douglas County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Stan Copeland said it was “due to complications related to the myriad of health conditions he had been battling.”
Parker’s death brings to a close a saga that was the stuff that movies are made of.
It was actually an investigation into an insurance claim that led to the fateful traffic stop. Investigators were seeking an interview as part of an insurance fraud investigation. Apparently there had been an fire at a rental property that the couple owned. When the claim was filed, there were some things that didn’t add up as far as furnishings listed in the claim.
Law enforcement officials went to a residence known to be Parker’s to look for him and he wasn’t there. While they were there, Parker drove by and patrol units stopped him. When Parker was unable to produce a driver’s license, he gave them the name of R.M. Healan and said he had never had a license.
Investigators knew the man as Healan, but fingerprinted him to be sure. The fingerprint check found his true identity, Charles Leon Parker, and the outstanding warrant from 29 years earlier from Douglas County.
The Healan name was the last name of the woman he had been living with. Officials say that was one of the tools he used to stay undetected, basically taking on the last name of various women he would become involved with.
Officials say that Parker remained on the lam with luck and by using others along the way. For a time shortly after leaving, Parker went to Texas where he stayed with a friend. He took a job in a nuclear power plant, officials say. But when the company indicated that a background check would be done, Parker bolted again.
There was evidence that Parker spent time in Arizona. There he and the woman he had been living with, Rose Healan, took in a young man. When things went sour in Arizona, they returned to Florida and the young man came with them.
Over a period of years, life insurance policies totaling a half a million dollars were taken out on the young man. Parker and Healan were the beneficiaries.The young man died in what was thought to be an accident and the couple collected the money. Since his arrest, Florida authorities have re-opened that case, to explore the death to make sure it wasn’t more than an accident.
Parker told investigators in an interview “it was just one of those things,” when confronted about the sexual acts following his arrest. U.S. Marshal Joey Garland, who had led the search for Parker for almost a decade before he was found and brought him back to Douglas County, put the death in perspective.
“Charles Parker will now face judgment in a much higher court with the ultimate jury,” Garland said. “Rest assured that there he will face the appropriate punishment and it won’t come at the taxpayers expense.”