Mom of Missing Woman Hugs Prime Suspect After Court Hearing

PHOTO: Michelle Parker was seen on an episode of The Peoples Court then mysteriously disappeared the same day.
Share
Copy

The mother of missing Florida woman Michelle Parker hugged the prime suspect in her daughter's disappearance after a court hearing today.

The hug came moments after a judge ruled that Dale Smith should get custody of twins that he had with Parker, his ex-fiance.

The children were taken away from Smith Tuesday, a day after police said he was the prime suspect in Parker's disappearance.

About the same time, police in Camden County, Ga., found the body of a white woman. It was spotted by a trucker whose vehicle broke down.

When asked whether the body could be Parker, Deputy William Terrell told ABC News affiliate WJXX, "Well that's one of the things we're looking into. We'll be talking to folks in Florida. We're very aware of that case and it may or may not be. It's really just too soon to speculate on that."

Camden County is nearly 200 miles from Orlando, Fla., where Parker was last seen.

Parker's parents said they were "disappointed" with child custody ruling and worried about the 3-year-old twins being in an "unfamiliar environment" since they have spent their whole lives living with Parker in her parents' home.

Despite the battle over the children, Parker's mother Yvonne Stewart shared a poignant moment with Smith, 40, outside the courtroom on Wednesday. She stopped on her way out and hugged the man who is both the father of her grandchildren and the only suspect in her daughter's disappearance.

"It was an out of body experience, standing right behind her," the Parker family's attorney Matt Morgan told ABCNews.com. "He's the prime suspect in the missing person case of her daughter, [and she's] hugging this guy and telling him she's praying for him."

Morgan said Parker's family is spending every day "in torment wondering about where Michelle is, what she's going through, if she's still with us."

When asked if the Parker family believes Smith may have harmed Parker, Morgan said, "They really hope he did not. The last thing they want is for the children to grow up knowing that daddy killed mommy."

Morgan is negotiating with Smith and his attorney Mark NeJame to come up with an agreement that would allow Parker's parents "liberal visitation" with their grandchildren and he says they are close to finalizing a deal.

"The grandchildren have been living with them for the past three years while Michelle lived at their house," Morgan said.

The judge who presided over the emergency custody hearing said there was not sufficient evidence to remove the children from Smith's care, but that the issue would be revisited if new evidence were to arise.

Earlier in the day, investigators searched Lake Ellenor and the surrounding area, according to WFTV. Crews searched a lake and nearby wooded area, but have not said of anything significant was found.

The Florida Department of Children and Families took the children into protective custody on Tuesday night, a day after police named Smith as their prime suspect. Police also said that Smith is their only suspect and that he refused to take a polygraph test.

Parker, 33, of Florida, has been missing since Nov. 17, the same day her appearance on "The People's Court" television show aired. She and Smith appeared in the episode to resolve a dispute over a $5,000 engagement ring.

Join the Discussion
You are using an outdated version of Internet Explorer. Please click here to upgrade your browser in order to comment.
blog comments powered by Disqus
 
You Might Also Like...
See It, Share It
PHOTO: In this stock image, a woman with a hangover is pictured.
Peter Dazeley/Getty Images
PHOTO:
Redfin | Inset: David Livingston/Getty Images
PHOTO: Woman who received lab-grown vagina says she now has normal life.
Metropolitan Autonomous University and Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine