ORLANDO, Florida (Isabelle Zehnder reporting) -- Intimate Partner Violence Specialist Susan Murphy-Milano was outraged when she learned a judge ruled Wednesday that missing Florida mom Michelle Parker's 3-year-old twins would be returned to her ex-fiancé who is the primary suspect in Michelle's disappearance, and who has a long criminal history including domestic violence.
The situation with the children appeared to be moving in the right direction when the Florida Department of Children and Families took temporary custody of the twins away from their father, Dale Wayne Smith II Tuesday night.
But in a shocking twist the judge, who heard the case Wednesday morning, denied the State’s request to place the children into the custody of Michelle’s family.
Michelle and her three children had been living with Michelle’s family for the past three years – this is home for these children. HLN’s Nancy Grace shared Murphy-Milano's outrage Thursday evening saying, “Michelle’s 11-year-old son [from a previous relationship] said Smith hit mommy in front of all three kids. Why would a judge hand the kids back to the bio dad knowing this?” she asked.
“I don’t see the imminent risk,” Judge Thomas W. Turner said Wednesday. “I don’t think incidents that happened years ago constitute a pattern.”
“Dale Smith’s the primary suspect in Michelle’s case, for God’s sake,” Murphy-Milano said. “A 12-member SWAT team swarmed his house on Saturday.”
"Why isn't Smith's health and mental fitness being evaluated to determine if he's stable enough to be in charge of these kids? When issues come up in divorce or other child custody matters, a guardian ad litem is appointed to the children and the parents are mandated to go through mediation and a court-appointed mental health evaluator," Murphy-Milano said.
"In Wednesday's court hearing the judge, at the minimum, should have had the head of the SWAT team unit that entered the premises of Dale Smith, Sr., testify as to why the situation warranted such extreme measures while serving a search warrant," she added.
Twelve SWAT team officers in two armored trucks who were fully armed and loaded using their trained, skilled, tactical maneuvers in high-risk and life-threatening situations, descended on Smith's parents' residence on Rose Boulevard Saturday evening. It has been reported that Smith and the 3-year-old twins have been living in the Rose Blvd. home since Michelle went missing.
"How healthy is that for the kids?" Murphy-Milano asked. "Were the children in the home at the time? The officers knocked on the door and when no one answered they broke down the door, stormed into the home, and initiated the use of pepper spray. That tells me they had good reason to serve and execute the search warrant," she said.
"There's also the issue of his then-wife, Shannon Collins-Smith, who, according to an Orlando Sentinel obituary, died in April 2001 at the age of 26 from a brain injury. There were recent reports that she overdosed and hit her head. It's interesting that in 2001 Smith was court martialed on charges of drug possession and domestic battery," Murphy Milano said.
Shannon, who was listed as living at the Rose Boulevard home in Orlando, worked as a personal trainer at the Orlando Regional Wellness Center. Born in Springfield, Mass., she moved to Central Florida in 2000. Her body was given to science and later cremated.
Unfortunately Smith has a hidden criminal history during the years he was in the military, which is also during the time when Shannon died.
Under normal circumstances a person's criminal history is public record. One exception is a person who commits crimes while he or she was in the military because the public does not have access to those records. In this case, a media source secured the information that Smith had been court martialed and provided at least some of his charges.
During a People’s Court episode that was filmed last summer, and aired the morning Michelle went missing, Michelle called her relationship with Smith “poison” and said she was done.
Two years before the show aired, Michelle sought but was not granted a restraining order against Smith citing he’d thrown their children’s car seats on the ground, smashed out her passenger –side window, cussed at her while she was holding her then 15-month-old daughter, and yelled, “Your day is coming.”
It is unknown why a judge would not grant a restraining order under such conditions when others are granted on lesser claims.
Orlando Police say Smith is the prime suspect in Michelle’s disappearance. “Police hardly ever name someone a suspect in a missing persons’ case which speaks volumes,” Murphy-Milano said, “meaning they know a lot more than they’re saying.
”In addition Smith, 40, has a long history of felony and misdemeanor charges of criminal burglary, trespassing school grounds and refusing to leave, drugs, aggravated battery, and his involvement in a murder case in 1992.
Smith was arrested after he and six others attacked two young men, killing one. Smith spent six months in jail for kicking the victim, a 22-year-old lifeguard, in an attack that news reports show was unprovoked by the victims.
Smith may be facing additional criminal charges following another unprovoked attack Thursday, this time a news cameraman. As Smith approached the courthouse steps he shoved the reporter who was standing on the sidewalk doing his job. The cameraman said he suffered cuts, scrapes, and bruises from the attack and may file charges against Smith.
Smith joined the US Marines in 1996 and was dishonorably discharged in 2003. As noted above, one of his wives, 26-year-old fitness instructor Shannon Collins-Smith, died of a brain injury the same year Smith was court martialed in the service on charges of drug possession and domestic battery.
"Where is the guardian ad litem for these children? The judge is negligent in his duties in not appointing one as it relates to the well-being of these two young children," Murphy-Milano said.
Michelle Parker, 33, went missing Thur., Nov. 17, 2011. Her Hummer was seen on surveillance video at 3:18 p.m. in an east Orange County neighborhood, driving to her ex-fiancé, Dale Wayne Smith II’s home to drop off their 3-year-old twins. He is the last know person to have seen her.
Michelle is described as a white female with short brown hair. She is 5’6” tall and was last seen wearing blue jeans, a Florida Gator’s zip-up hoodie, and a silver cross necklace.
Several hours before Michelle arrived at Dale’s house, the two had appeared in 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 Dale at a hotel, and that went over a balcony.
According to a Facebook page created to provide updates and support in Michelle’s case, she was officially last seen around 4 p.m. at the intersection of Goldenrod and Leevista in the Carter Glen Townhomes near Orlando Florida. Her last text was at 4:26 p.m. on Nov. 17, and said “Waterford.” The text was in response to her brother asking what she was up to.
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, The Orlando Sentinel reports. Decals for her Glow mobile-tanning business had been removed from the windows. From there the trail went cold.
A $5,000 reward is being offered in the case.
Police are urging anyone with information about the case to call Crimeline at 1-800-423-8477.
Readers' comments are welcome below.
Follow this National Missing Persons news writer:
· Click on SUBSCRIBE link above for instant updates
· Visit my Blog
· Follow me on Facebook
· Follow me on Twitter
Continue reading on Examiner.com Susan Murphy-Milano outraged at judge’s decision to return twins to ex-fiancé - National missing persons | Examiner.com http://www.examiner.com/missing-persons-in-national/susan-murphy-milano-outraged-at-judge-s-decision-to-return-twins-to-ex-fianc#ixzz1fdKRxNuM