Fla. removes kids of woman missing after TV show

AP News
Posted: Nov 29, 2011 7:00 PM
Fla. removes kids of woman missing after TV show

A man whose ex-fiancee vanished after the pair appeared on "The People's Court" is urging officials to expand their search for her, even though authorities have focused their investigation on him and removed the pair's children from his care.

A high-profile attorney hired by Dale Smith told reporters that his client has not committed any crime during a news conference a day after police said Smith is a suspect in the disappearance of 33-year-old Michelle Parker. Smith has not been charged in the case.

Attorney Mark NeJame said Smith is asking for the missing-persons search group Texas Equusearch to help look for Parker. NeJame said his client is declining to take a lie detector test because it's unreliable and not because he is hiding anything.

"If this doesn't ring as a testament to a man who is not guilty, I don't know what does," NeJame said. "Mr. Smith wants Michelle found. Now what guilty person is asking for a search to be conducted? If she is found alive or not, he knows that will exonerate him."

NeJame was the attorney for Casey Anthony's parents for a time and also represented Tiger Woods after the 2009 car accident that preceded a sex scandal involving the golfer. NeJame also represented Texas Equusearch in the Anthony case.

Parker was last seen Nov. 17, the day the previously-taped episode aired featuring her and the 40-year-old Smith. Parker and Smith were on the show to resolve a dispute over a $5,000 engagement ring. Smith, a roofing contractor, had sued Parker for the value of the ring.

They had been together off and on since 2006 before appearing on the television show and are the parents of 3-year-old twins. Department of Children and Families officials took the twins into temporary custody Tuesday following an investigation into their safety. They had been living at Smith's house and the home of Smith's parents since Parker disappeared.

Department spokeswoman Carrie Hoeppner declined to give a reason for their removal but said a hearing would be held on the matter Wednesday.

Parker has an older child from another relationship.

Court records show Parker filed for a domestic violence injunction against Smith in 2009 but the order was dismissed after a hearing.

Smith has had traffic infractions and arrests on a misdemeanor drug charge and a misdemeanor charge of possession of an opened container of alcohol in a car, according to court records. The most serious charge he faced was for aggravated battery in 1996. He pleaded guilty and a prison sentence was withheld. Smith has lived in Florida and North Carolina.

Parker and Smith described to "People's Court" Judge Marilyn Milian how their most recent reconciliation unraveled at a convention in Atlanta for science fiction and fantasy fans. Smith said he liked to dress up as a storm trooper or Captain America at these types of conventions.

They got into an argument when Smith brought up a past relationship of Parker's. During the argument Smith grabbed her, Parker told the judge, so she got a nearby police officer to escort her to her hotel room. The officer stayed at the room so Parker could pack up her belongings without being disturbed by Smith, she said.

When Smith demanded the engagement ring back, Parker said she took it off and threw it at him. But the ring slipped through a railing and landed nine floors below in the hotel atrium, she said. Smith was unable to find the ring.

"I threw it at him and he shouldn't put his hand on me and he shouldn't have put his hands on me prior," Parker told the judge, according to a transcript of the show. "It's been a hell of a rollercoaster ride, and it's poison and we're done."

The television judge said Parker was responsible for paying Smith for half of the value of the ring. But she also told them their "fatal attraction" relationship wasn't working and that they should move on to other people. "You're like drugs to each other," Milian said. "You're addicted to each other but this is a very, very bad idea."