By JB Clark/NEMS Daily Journal
MOOREVILLE – Everyone who talks about Dale Parker talks about his distinct laugh and compassion for everyone around him, two things that make it hard for his family and friends to believe anyone could kill him.
Lee County Sheriff Jim Johnson said nothing was taken from Parker’s home and there was money in his pocket when they found his body outside his home July 25, so police say whoever shot him came to his house that day for that reason only.
That is unfathomable to those close to Parker, who was 35 at the time of his death.
“You could not be out in public for 30 seconds without seeing someone he knew,” said Gabbi Kiddy, 18, Parker’s daughter. “You would stand there and talk to them forever and then a couple of minutes later there was someone else.”
Jo Ann Hankins, 40, and Parker dated for four years and she said they had plans to get married this October.
“When I first met him I wasn’t that into him but he’s got that personality – always smiling and always happy – and it grew on me,” she said. “He had this obnoxious laugh you couldn’t help but love. He would do anything for anyone – get up in the middle of the night to help you.”
That’s the way everyone described Parker – smiling, always laughing, always trying lend a hand and always the center of attention.
“He was the typical little brother growing up,” said his brother, Dayton Parker, 40. “I was four years older and I was a baby sitter a lot. It was a lot of fun. He never took anything seriously, like a young boy that never grew out of it.”
Parker said his brother was the kind of person anyone would think the world of after spending two minutes in his presence. “If you knew Dale, he wasn’t one of those people in your wildest imagination something like this could have happened to,” he said.
Dale Parker liked to ride four-wheelers – that’s how he tried to get Hankins to hang out with him and one way he spent time with his daughter and niece.
“He was friends with some of my friends and would send me Facebook messages wanting me to go four-wheeler-riding with him,” said Hankins of Parker before they actually met. When they were dating they went all the time.
Cynthia Parker, 20, his niece, would see him ride up past her house on his way to hunt and she remembers running out to him.
“I would run out to see if it was him and he would take me hunting,” she said. “I would help him look for his deer.”
Kiddy remembers riding four-wheelers and horses with her dad when they spent time together.
“I didn’t see him as much as I wish I would have, but when we were together it was good,” she said. “We talked about it before it happened, how we had been getting a lot closer. When we were together we were always being goofy and he was picking on me. He was like a big kid.”
His daughter said she misses Parker this year because it’s her senior year at East Union High School and he is missing it.
Hankins said she misses the way his hand fit in hers when he walked to her door.
Johnson said this case is a difficult one because none of the neighbors heard any shots or saw anything out of ordinary that Wednesday afternoon. At this point no one has been arrested or charged and no suspects have been named. There is a list of possible suspects – names that have come up during interviews and the investigation – but Johnson said they have no evidence to tie anyone to the murder.
“It looks like Mr. Parker was at home and without his knowledge is approached and this happens,” he said. “And that was the sole purpose they came there they came there – nothing was taken, there was money in his pocket.”
Johnson said they knew he had a legitimate business deal that day with a friend.
“There was text messaging back and forth, the friend was to come over that afternoon and help Mr. Parker on a legitimate deal – we think to unload a trailer that was there,” Johnson said. “We’ve checked him out every way – up one side and down the other – and everything seemed fine. The friend said something like he was running a minute late and showed up and found Mr. Parker.”
Johnson said it’s unusual that no one heard gunshots, considering the number of bullets fired and the caliber of weapon used.
“A lot of times, these types of crimes are solved down the road when the pressure is on someone,” Johnson said. “We’ve gotten information like that. They might say, ‘If I tell you this will you cut me a deal,’ but at this point a lot of it is theory or something we can’t prove. But we’re not going to stop. Anyone who knows anything, we’re willing to work with you.”
Family wants answers
Kiddy said she wants to know who did it and their reasoning so she can stop wondering and sleep at night.
“I’ll never understand why and don’t want to understand why but I would like to know their reasoning and if they even thought about who it would affect,” she said. “It wouldn’t make the pain go away but stop the wondering and help me sleep at night knowing whoever it is got what they deserve.”
Parker’s brother said the family talks about it a lot and while they don’t harbor ill will, they want to know the person who killed Parker is serving the consequences.
Dayton Parker’s daughter, Cynthia, said she hopes reminding people of her uncle’s death will help people remember details from the day he died.
“I hope someone things of something from that day that they may have pushed back in their mind because it didn’t seem relevant,” she said. “Now they’ve had time to settle down and I’m hoping someone will remember and come forward to help us.”
Know anything on the case?
Anyone with information about Dale Parker’s death can report it by calling the Lee County Sheriff’s office or making an anonymous report at (800) 773-TIPS.