Twins returned to suspect father as hunt for missing US reality TV star continues
Published 01/12/2011 | 13:23
THE toddler twins of a missing US reality TV star have been returned to their father who is the chief suspect in her disappearance.
Michelle Parker (33) appeared on an episode of the TV show The People’s Court on November 17 and has not been seen since.
On the show she and her former fiancee Dale Smith (40) argued over who should pay for a missing $5,000 engagement ring.
The couple, who were together since 2006, had rowed in a hotel room and she flung the ring at him – but it fell nine storeys to the foyer and they never found it.
The TV Judge ruled that they should split the cost, but Smith, when interviewed after the show, did not think this was fair.
Michelle Parker has not been seen since and he is the chief focus of police investigations.
However, at a child custody hearing in Florida, Judge Thomas Turner ruled that the three-year-old twins faced no imminent danger in his care despite his history of abuse. They have been with him since their mother disappeared.
Court records showed Parker filed for a domestic violence injunction against Smith in 2009, but the order was dismissed after a hearing, the AP reported.
Court records also showed Smith infringed traffic laws, was arrested on drug charges and charges of possessing an opened container of alcohol in a car.
The most serious charge he faced was for aggravated battery in 1996. He pleaded guilty and a prison sentence was withheld.
Smith’s lawyer Mark NeJame, a high-profile Florida defender, told US television network ABC: "Now if everybody who's under suspicion would lose their children, I think we need to go ahead and have a bonfire with the constitution."
He implied Parker was dead despite police still treating her as missing.
"Statistics sadly suggest that when someone has been missing for 12 days that there has been a homicide," the Orlando Sentinel reported Mr NeJame as saying.