Studio portrait of Sid Salter. (photo by Beth Wynn / © Mississippi State University)

By: Sid Salter

Randall Scott Parker is finally, mercifully at peace and a family circle violently broken 31 years ago is once again unbroken.

A month ago, I wrote about the sad story of the Carl “Bubba” Parker family in Quitman County and of Scott Parker – the lone surviving son who maintained the lonely vigil of waiting for what he believed was justice for his murdered family. Mutual friends in the Delta notified me last week that Scott Parker, 56, died Wednesday, Sept. 8, 2021, at Greenwood Leflore Hospital in Greenwood – a victim of COVID-19.

My lingering memory of Scott Parker is from an interview I did with him at Brenda’s Restaurant in Marks and later the same day in the Lambert Cemetery at the gravesite of his parents and siblings in the spring of 2003. He was an affable, friendly man carrying around an incredible burden of loss and pain.

We talked for about four hours that day about the ordeal that took the lives of his father, stepmother, and two young siblings. We talked about the impact the crime had on Scott’s life and that of his brother, Dean Parker. Dean has since died of cancer.

The story I wrote from our interview was focused on the concept of indigent defense – the provision of competent legal counsel for those defendants who cannot afford it. Scott Parker was an unlikely supporter of that concept based on his family’s hard experiences in waiting to travel the labyrinth of state and federal appeals by the two individuals convicted and sentenced to death for murdering his family in one of the more heinous crimes in Mississippi history.

Standing by his father’s grave, Scott suddenly got a catch in his voice and a stricken expression on his face before saying as his jaw began to tremble: “I need to get out of here before I get upset.”

Scott was 38 when he granted that interview, but he appeared much older. At that time, he worked at the Cooper Tire Plant in Clarksdale – his arms muscled from physical labor and marked with tattoos from his past service in the U.S. Navy.

The Parker family nightmare began Friday, Feb. 2, 1990. The facts of the case, as recorded in trial and appeal transcripts, are chilling. The family left the Riverside Baptist Church Bible study class at about 9 p.m. to return to their Walnut community home some 10 miles away on Hwy. 322 southwest of Lambert.

Carl Webster “Bubba” Parker, 58; his wife Bobbie Jo, 45; daughter Charlotte Jo, 9; and son Gregory, 12, were active in the church where Bobbie Jo served as the church secretary and pianist. The family entered the isolated rural home in the midst of an apparent burglary, Quitman County investigators later testified.

The victims were bound, assaulted, tortured, and shot. Investigators believe Bubba Parker was forced to watch the attack on his family.

Firefighters said Parker had almost severed his own wrists struggling against the extension cord used to bind his hands and feet. After shooting all four family members, raping the little girl, and finally cutting off Mr. Parker’s finger to steal his wedding ring, the killers set fire to the home and left the wounded family to burn alive according to court records.

Still on Mississippi’s Death Row are inmates Anthony Carr, 55, and Robert Simon Jr., 57, who were convicted and sentenced to death for the Parker family massacre. Scott Parker waited on justice for 31 years and it never came. Quitman County borrowed $250,000 and raised taxes to pay for the legal defense of the men convicted of murdering his family.

For Scott Parker, the higher taxes came to about $40 a year. He said in 2003: “That’s about how much cash money my dad had in his pocket when those two killed him.”

There is something wrong with a judicial system that allows 31 years to pass before crimes are punished as juries direct. I think Scott Parker struggled with that knowledge on a daily basis and that maddening struggle cost him dearly in mind, body, and soul. Would that he finds peace now.