In August 2011, Michelle Parker headed to Warner Bros. studios to tape an episode of “The People’s Court.”
The appearance was at the recommendation of Parker’s ex-fiancé, Dale Wayne Smith, who suggested the former couple settle a dispute over a lost engagement ring, Fox News reports. Smith had sued Parker over the $5,000 ring after she allegedly threw it off a balcony during an argument.
The taping saw Parker accuse Smith of cheating multiple times and of being “malicious,” “vindictive,” and “mean.”
Allegations of physical abuse also surfaced during the taping, and a court reporter called the couple’s relationship a “fatal attraction.”
According to Fox News, the 33-year-old Florida mother of three was embarrassed by her appearance on the show and refused to watch when the episode aired. Smith and Parker were featured on “The People’s Court” on November 17, 2011, and for many, Parker’s debut would be the last time anyone ever saw her.
As Fox News reports, Parker was last seen around 2 p.m. the day the show broadcast after driving her 3-year-old twins to Smith’s home in Orlando for a scheduled visit with their father. Parker was later reported missing when she failed to show up for work as a bartender. Days later, police found Parker’s abandoned car in a nearby parking lot and her cellphone at the bottom of a lake, 4 miles from Smith’s home.
Early on in her disappearance, Parker’s brother, Dustin, sent her a text asking his sister’s whereabouts. The response — “Waterford” — reportedly distressed Parker’s family who had never received a one-word text from their loved one. In a 2011 interview with ABC News shortly after her sister’s disappearance, Lauren Erickson said:
“She doesn’t talk like that.”
Parker’s phone was later discovered to have last “pinged” in the opposite direction of where the missing mom reportedly claimed to be, Fox News reported.
Orlando Police Department Detective Michael Moreschi told Fox News that Parker’s ex-fiancé remains the main suspect in the investigation, six years following Parker’s disappearance. Smith has never been arrested or charged in the case.
According to WESH, after her daughter’s disappearance, Yvonne Stewart filed a civil suit against Smith for the death of her daughter. Smith was forced to testify under oath but invoked the Fifth Amendment and refused to answer questions, including his knowledge of Parker’s disappearance,WKMG reports.
Stewart is also fighting for visitation rights with her two grandchildren, Fox News reported.
Moreschi told Fox News the investigation into Parker’s disappearance is “very active” adding: “There is no way that she left [the area] voluntarily, or that she left without a fight. Her children were her life.”
In an interview with WKMG five years after his daughter’s disappearance, Parker’s father, Brad Parker, said: “You know, I’m waiting for that phone call to say, ‘They found her.’ I’m still waiting.”