A 70-year-old man who spent the last 29 years evading law enforcement officials on child molestation and incest charges, died in custody Tuesday morning, according to Douglas County District Attorney David McDade.
Charles Leon Parker, a sexual predator indicted in January 1983 on three counts of child molestation and two counts of incest, died in a medical correctional facility in South Carolina, eight months after being taken into custody by authorities. The facility was housing Parker while he was awaiting trial in Douglas County.
“Justice was served today,” said District Attorney 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 was originally arrested on November 24, 1982, after investigators learned he was having sexual intercourse with his 12-year-old stepdaughter. The step-daughter, an eighth grader at the time, told authorities the sexual relationship with the defendant began two years earlier. According to the victim, the majority of the incidents occurred when the mother and Parker’s biological son were out of the house, leaving Parker 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. 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 relationship and convinced the 12-year-old stepdaughter to talk to a school counselor. Authorities were alerted by the school counselor, who felt the victim’s conversation pointed to sexual abuse.
Parker told investigator’s in an interview “it was just one of those things,” when confronted about the sexual acts following his arrest. Following his initial arrest on those charges in 1982, Parker was released on a $25,000 bond. Several months later, as Parker was about to be tried on these charges, he fled from Georgia and avoided capture for the next three decades.
Through-out his 29 years on the run, Parker became the subject of John Walsh’s “America’s Most Wanted,” and was known as Douglas County’s most sought-after fugitive. Parker’s run ended last summer in Madison, Fla., where officers arrested him. While investigating an insurance fraud, officers fingerprinted 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. Parker was then extradited back to Douglas County to await trial on the original charges.
While awaiting trial in the Douglas County jail Parker became ill and was being housed in a specialized medical unit. Parker was actually scheduled to be back in court this Friday for pre-trial hearings. That hearing is obviously no longer necessary.