'People's Court' Missing Mom: Recovered Cell Phone Indicates Foul Play to Family

The iPhone was recovered at the bottom of a lake that divers are searching.

ORLANDO, Fla. Dec. 9, 2011 — -- A tip led to the discovery of missing Florida mom Michelle Parker's cell phone at the bottom of a lake and the battered iPhone indicates foul play to her family, according to the Parker family attorney.

Though the family has so far been publicly optimistic about the search for the mother of three, "hope is starting to fade."

"On the one hand, the family was relieved to get some kind of lead in regards to the disappearance of their daughter," Parker family attorney Matt Morgan told ABCNews.com. "On the other hand, it was devastating for them because at this point, they're coming to grips with the fact that a tragic day is likely imminent."

Today, investigators resumed a full-scale search in the area where the cell phone was found, using all-terrain vehicles and divers in the water.

Though the cell phone was found about 40 minutes from Parker's home, the lake is only five minutes from the home of her ex-fiance Dale Smith, who is also the police's prime suspect in the investigation and the father of two of Parker's three children.

The Parker family's newfound despair follows the recovery of Michelle Parker's missing iPhone from the bottom of an Orlando lake. Police have released a photo of the phone that has been submerged for more than three weeks and it has been sent to forensic specialists to see what information can be extracted from it.

The family immediately recognized the pink, blue and black Hurley cover on Parker's iPhone.

"I just feel like it's not going to end well now," Parker's mother Yvonne Stewart said as she struggled to speak through sobs. "Maybe we'd find her and she'd be alive and I just don't think it's going to happen now."

The 33-year-old mother of three disappeared on Nov. 17, the same day an episode of "The People's Court" aired that she and Smith appeared on to resolve a dispute over a $5,000 engagement ring.

The couple's tumultuous relationship played out in the episode and details of Smith's violent past emerged after Parker's disappearance. Even though Smith is the police's main suspect, an Orlando court gave him custody of his and Parker's three-year-old twins just one day after the children had been removed from his care.

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.

Morgan has been negotiating with Smith's attorney Mark LaJame in order to come up with an agreement under which Parker's parents could have visitation rights with their grandkids. The toddlers have lived with their mother at their grandparents' home for the past three years.

The Parker grandparents have not seen their grandchildren since the hearing when a judge gave Smith custody.

"[The children are] the last link to Michelle for Yvonne and her family," Morgan said. "The last thing that brings some kind of joy and reminds them of Michelle and they're not able to see them."

Morgan hopes the agreement will be finalized today so that the Parkers can see the children.

The Parker family initially publicly defended Smith, but for the first time since Parker's disappearance, her father Brad Parker told ABC News that he believes Smith may have had something to do with his daughter's disappearance.

"He is on our radar right now," Brad Parker said. "He was violent, mean, angry…and that's why I think he did it."

Still, Parker pleaded with Smith to tell him the truth.

"Dale, you've got my phone number. Be a man. Call me, let's speak," Parker said. "I'm Michelle's dad. You've got my grandkids. Dale, call me."

Smith's attorney Mark LaJame has said his client has voluntarily met with police three times and has cooperated fully with the investigation.