ORLANDO, Florida ( – On Monday, Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney was asked if the 3-year-old twins of missing Florida mom, Michelle Parker, are still in the custody of their father who is the primary suspect in her missing person's case.
Chief Rooney said, “That I don’t know.”
He also said that the children's father, Dale Wayne Smith II, was offered a polygraph test. Rooney said, "He simply refused the polygraph."
Michelle's sister Lauren Ericksen said she wants Michelle's twins "in my life, for the rest of my life." How can she ensure they are safe when the chief of police says he doesn't know if they're still with their father who Lauren has described as abusive?
“The children must be a priority,” said Intimate Partner Violence Specialist and author Susan Murphy-Milano. “Especially when their 33-year-old mother suddenly vanishes like a bad magic act, and when the last person reported to have seen her alive is the father of her children now presumably under his care.”
Smith is the last known person to have seen Michelle. She was last seen on Nov. 17 dropping the twins off at his home.Murphy-Milano said, “Michelle Parker is the primary caretaker of the children. Residential placement belongs to her. What court decided to authorize the care of these children?”
Children's Services visited Smith last week. It is concerning that the chief of police doesn't know if they're still with their father. There was no report that the children were removed from Smith's care last week, and there has been no indication that they've been with Michelle's family.
Over the weekend about a dozen members of the Orlando SWAT team descended upon and executed a search warrant on the home belonging to Smith's father, Dale Smith Sr., the same home where Smith reportedly lives. Officers forced their way into the home with the use of pepper spray.
“How often do we see a dozen SWAT team members descend upon the home of a missing person’s partner or ex-partner?” Murphy-Milano asked. “Not often, if ever,” she said.
“How often do we even hear that someone is named a suspect in a missing person’s case?” she asked. “Rarely,” she said. Police may name someone a person of interest in a missing person’s case, but it’s not often that they’ll name someone a suspect.
Murphy-Milano said, “This goes beyond law enforcement entering the premises with a search warrant. It sends a message to the community of real danger, that this particular suspect must be met with caution, and that the children are likely at risk while under his care.”
What is Smith capable of?
Dale Smith’s violent past
Smith's past is troubling.
Dale Smith reportedly has a history of drugs, alcohol, cheating on his wife, and violence, including domestic violence. He is reportedly known to become angry and aggressive when drinking, so what's to say that anger won't be unleashed on his children?
In his current situation, including the SWAT team swarming down on his parents' home last weekend where he's been staying, is he the best person to care for the children? Is it in their best interest to remain with their father, if they are still with him?
Michelle’s friend, Angela Launer, told ABC News that Smith was known to abandon Michelle in out-of-the-way places. She said, “I know he hurt her many times – dropped her off in areas with no shoes. Took off and left her in Georgia by herself.”
ABC’s Good Morning America reports that in 2009 Michelle filed for a restraining order against her ex-fiancé for breaking a window in her SUV, throwing their children’s car seats on the ground, cursing at her, and saying, “Your day is coming.”
Those are harsh words – words not to be taken lightly.
The Boston Herald reports the incident occurred when their twins were 15 months old, and that Smith was holding their daughter when he cursed at Michelle. They were reportedly arguing over custody of the children.
Michelle told the court that Smith had previously been violent with her and had threatened to kidnap their children, the article states. She also said Smith had problems with drugs and alcohol. The injunction was dismissed Sept. 1, 2009. It’s not clear why.
Smith reportedly joined the US Marines in 1996 and was dishonorably discharged as a private in 2003. He was court-martialed in 2001 and found guilty of drug and domestic-abuse charges, the military agency said.
According to The Boston Herald, Smith pleaded no contest in 1990 to trespassing on school grounds and in 1992 to attempted aggravated battery. He entered a pretrial diversion in 1992 after being arrested on a charge of marijuana possession. He pleaded guilty in 1997 to battery.
Murphy-Milano said, “The courts mandate mental health evaluations during some divorce and child custody cases, yet no one of authority at the State level takes action when a child's mother is reported missing? Has Dale Smith been evaluated to determine his fitness as a caretaker?” she asked.
On Tuesday, ClickOrlando.com reports that Smith was among a gang of seven people, mostly teens, who were looking for a fight over Memorial Day weekend 1992. One man ended up dead and the man's brother to this day believes Smith was the leader of the gang. Click here for the story.
The fact that Smith's family has not offered to help search for Michelle speaks volumes. Could it be that his father is aware of what happened to Michelle, or where she is?
People’s Court episode
During a People’s Court episode that was filmed last July and aired the morning Michelle went missing, Michelle told the judge, and the world, that her ex was “abusive” and that their relationship was “poison.”
The show was based on Smith's accusation that Michelle threw away an expensive $5,000 engagement ring, and who should be responsible to pay for it. The judge ruled Smith and Michelle should split the cost.
During the show, Michelle accused Smith of being violent. She told the judge, “He gets pretty malicious and vindictive. He’s a mean person especially when he’s drinking.”
“He shouldn’t have put his hands on me,” she said. “He shouldn’t have left me three or four times over the past year-and-a-half that we’ve been together.”
During the show, Michelle accused Smith of cheating on her with at least seven different women and they argued about visitation rights regarding their twins.
The judge strongly, and perhaps wrongly, chastised Michelle during the show, raising the question: Could the show have in some way validated this [reportedly] abusive man into a feeling of some sort of power over Michelle after seeing her torn apart by the judge?
The court reporter referred to Michelle and Smith’s relationship as a ‘fatal attraction.’ The show aired just hours before Michelle arrived at Smith’s home. Could these statements have put ideas into his head? Could it have spurred an angry outburst? It was clear during his after-show interview that Smith was not pleased with the judge’s ruling.
Visit from child services
GMA learned Wednesday that Smith had received a visit from child services. The fact the police chief says he doesn’t know if the children are with their father at this time, especially after he was just named their primary suspect, is concerning.
A visit from child services doesn’t automatically mean they took the children from their father. In fact, more often than not it is seen where children are not removed from a home soon enough. Or returned to their parents too soon when it was not in their best interest. Read about the case of Jhessey Shockley, as an example.
Murphy-Milano stressed that if Michelle had known about and done the EAA Link, “Dale Smith would be in custody.”
[Update: On Tuesday, Michelle's twins were removed from the custody of their father, her ex-fiancé, Dale Smith. Read:Michelle Parker's ex-fiancé suspect in her disappearance, loses custody of twins.]
Scroll down for links to more on Michelle's story.
Michelle Parker, 33, went missing Thur., Nov. 17. She was last seen on surveillance video at 3:15 p.m. in an east Orange County neighborhood. She was seen driving to her ex-fiancé, Dale Smith’s home dropping off their 3-year-old twins.
Moments before she arrived, Michelle and Smith had just appeared on a previously taped episode of The People’s Court. The show centered on who would be responsible to pay for a $5,000 engagement ring that Michelle admittedly threw at Smith at a hotel, and that went over a balcony.
The two had a tumultuous relationship. CNN reports that in 2009 Michelle reportedly obtained a temporary restraining order against Smith, citing and incident in which Smith broke the window of her car, threw car seats onto the ground, cursed at her, and told her, “Your day is coming.”
Even though there is a trail of violent incidents in Smith’s past, Michelle’s mother told WFTV she believes her daughter was the “victim of a random crime” and doesn’t think Smith was involved. Because Michelle’s car was found in a mall parking lot they believe she might have been the victim of a car-jacking. This was her belief before Smith's father's house was raided.
Michelle is described as a white female with short brown hair. She is 5’6” tall and was last seen wearing a silver-cross necklace, jeans, and a Florida Gator’s zip-up hoodie.
At 4:26 p.m. her brother, Dustin Erickson, received a text message from Michelle’s iPhone suggesting she was in the Waterford Lakes area, also on the county’s east side.
By 8 p.m. Michelle’s iPhone pinged in the area of Oakridge Road near Belle Isle, more than seven miles from where she was last seen. Her phone was powered down in that area and has not been recovered.
The next day police found her black H3 Hummer license plate AWG-M26 in the parking lot of Walden Palms Apartments, 4700 Walden Circle. Decals for her Glow mobile-tanning business had been removed from the windows. From there the trail has grown cold.
A $50,000 reward that was offered in the case has expired.
Police are urging anyone with information about the case to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.
- Police name missing Michelle Parker's ex-fiancé primary suspect; family's pleas
- Michelle Parker missing: Swat team swarms ex's home, names him a suspect
- Adam Clifford: Happy ending to missing person's case, 19-yr-old is safe
- Psychic angry, unleashes on those she feels turned on her in Baby Lisa case
- Michelle Parker’s ex-fiancé has violent history, told her ‘your day is coming’