Florida woman vanishes -- after TV appearance on 'People's Court'
The Sunshine State has become known for its never-ending stream of sensational, or sometimes simply bizarre, stories. (Maybe it's something in the swamp water?)
But the latest headline-making story is so troubling or at least unusual -- even for a state that's given rise to the only-in-FloriDUH news blog -- that it's ricocheted far beyond Florida's borders:
The last time Michelle Parker was seen alive, it was on TV. Specifically, as a defendant on "The People's Court."
Parker taped the episode earlier in the year, but it aired for the first time on Thursday. She and her ex-fiance, Dale Smith, who is also the father of her 3-year-old twins, appeared on the court TV show to hash out a disagreement about their $5,000 engagement ring. By all accounts, the two had a fiery relationship (Parker also alleged abuse), and at one point she tossed the ring over a hotel balcony during a fight.
The judge on the TV show ruled that both were at fault, ordered Parker to pay her fiance for half of the ring, and then admonished them to calmly co-parent their children.
That same Thursday, Parker's brother received a bizarre text message from Parker. It just said "Waterford,"the name of a neighborhood in Orlando. Then she failed to show up for her 7 p.m. bartending shift that night. Her black SUV was later found, seemingly left behind.
In case you're thinking Aha! Musta been the ex-fiance!, there's this: Parker's family told WFTV in Orlando that investigators say the ex is not a person of interest and has been cooperating fully to help locate the mother of his children. (Parker also has a child from a previous relationship.)
Relatives believe that Parker must have been carjacked or kidnapped, and are organizing search parties to help find her, according to the Orlando Sentinel.
As for the TV show appearance, Parker's mother, Yvonne Stewart told ABC News that, when her daughter returned from taping the show, she called it "the most humiliating experience of my life. I don't even ever want to see it. I wish I had never gone."
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