After almost 30 years on the run, a fugitive who was arrested on child molestation and incest charges, dies days before he was to appear in court.
Mr. Charles Leon Parker, an alleged sexual predator, became Douglas County’s Most Wanted fugitive.
But on Tuesday, eight months after being taken into custody, the 70-year-old died in a medical correctional facility in South Carolina, according to the Douglas County District Attorney’s Office.
“Justice was served today,” said District Attorney David 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 breathe 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.”
Mr. Parker was originally arrested on Nov. 24, 1982, after investigators learned he was having sexual intercourse with his 12-year-old stepdaughter, the district attorney’s spokesman Mr. Andrew Agan said.
The step-daughter, an eighth grader at the time, told authorities the crime began two years earlier, and happened mostly when her mother and Mr. Parker’s biological son were out of the house, Mr. Agan said.
Then Mr. Parker would be alone with the victim and her other sister.
“The other sister was ordered by Parker to clean areas of the house while the victim stayed with him in his bedroom,” Mr. Agan said. “The sexual relationship transpired over the course of the defendant’s four-year marriage to the victim’s mother.”
The sexual acts went unnoticed until the victim’s friend discovered the crime and convinced the 12-year-old stepdaughter to talk to a school counselor who contacted authorities after determining the victim’s conversation pointed to sexual abuse, he said.
When questioned by investigators, Mr. Parker allegedly responded, “It was just one of those things.”
Mr. Parker was arrested on those charges in 1982, but was released on a $25,000 bond.
Several months later, as he was about to be tried on these charges, Mr. Parker fled the state and avoided capture for almost three decades.
Throughout his 29 years on the run, Mr. Parker became the subject of John Walsh’s “America’s Most Wanted,” and was known as Douglas County’s most sought-after fugitive, Mr. Agan said.
Mr. Parker’s run ended last summer in Madison, Fla., where officers arrested him.
While investigating an insurance fraud, officers fingerprinted Mr. Parker, who had been living under the alias R.M. Healan. The fingerprints revealed his true identity, and an outstanding bench warrant issued 29 years earlier from Douglas County, Ga., was then executed.
Mr. Parker was extradited back to Douglas County to await trial on the original charges.
But while awaiting trial in the Douglas County jail, Mr. Parker became ill and was being housed in a specialized medical unit, Mr. Agan said.
Mr. Parker was scheduled to be back in court this Friday for pre-trial hearings, officials said.
“I hope this ending can bring closure to a chapter in this victim’s life,” Mr. McDade said. “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.”
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