Poplarville Woman Admits Role In Florida Murders - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Poplarville Woman Admits Role In Florida Murders

A Pearl River County woman who'd been reported missing by her family could face the death penalty.  Larry Long, a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, says 31-year-old Ruby Yolanda Parker has confessed to having a role in three murders.

Parker had been missing for a month. On Tuesday she turned up in Clewiston, Florida where the bodies of three people were found inside a home.

A tip lead police there and then on a high speed chase. In that car were Yolanda Parker and her boyfriend Richard Harker. Police say the chase ended when Harker slammed into two police cars and then committed suicide with a single gun shot to the head.

Florida authorities say Harker worked with the victims and believe robbery was the motive for the murders.

Yolanda Parker has been the center of a different kind of investigation in Pearl River County. What happened in Florida shocked her family and surprised the deputies trying to find her.

It was July 25 when Pearl River County investigator Christa Bennett says Parker's family came to her desperate for help. They said they hadn't seen or heard from her in weeks.

"You've got a single mother whose never left their daughter's side and all of a sudden she's gone," said Bennett. "It makes you wonder. The family came to me since I'm the domestic violence officer and it was running off with a new boyfriend. I felt there was something wrong, so I just started looking for her."

The investigation into Yolanda Parker's disappearance brought more disturbing news. She was last seen with Richard Harker who deputies learned had a violent past.

Bennett said, "Through an anonymous tip we found out the boyfriend was Richard Harker and we did a background check on him. That's when we saw the murder conviction."

On Wednesday, Sheriff investigators finally got the break they'd been looking for in their missing persons case, but it wasn't the type of information they'd expected. Ruby Yolanda Parker was alive, but in a Florida jail suspected of three murders. 

Chief Deputy Aaron Russell said, "Of course, the family has taken this very hard. At first it's great news to hear that's she's been located, but then you follow up with the circumstances. They're devastated and it's a very difficult time for them. It's very unusual for us. This is a case that seems like it's drawn out of a movie instead of real life and we're waiting to see what occurs."

"I'm glad we found her," said Christa Bennett. "I'm glad she's okay, but it's tough the situation she got into."

Deputies say Richard Harker came to Pearl River County to work on a storm debris crew which is where he and Yolanda Parker met. Chief Deputy Russell says though they never had any problems with Harker, records show that back in 1992 he was sentenced to 22 years for second degree murder. Harker served 10 years, but was released in 2002 because of a Florida passed a law to ease prison overcrowding.

by Danielle Thomas

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