ATHENS, Ga. -- Relatives of a middle Georgia man whose body was found two months ago in a well east of Athens believe it’s only a matter of time before authorities will charge someone with murdering 25-year-old Charles Parker.
“Based on information that we’ve received, we feel confident that an arrest is imminent,” said Kenneth Holmes, Parker’s father-in-law.
Holmes would not reveal the source of the information, and a Georgia Bureau of Investigation official would only say that authorities continue to investigate Parker’s murder.
But Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith shares Holmes’ optimism that the murder will be solved.
“I feel real good about the case, and I feel an arrest will be made,” Smith said Wednesday. “I don’t know how soon that will happen, but that’s my personal opinion.”
The GBI, the Oglethorpe County Sheriff’s Office and the Monroe, Ga., Police Department are investigating Parker’s murder.
Parker’s wife, Kenisha, filed a missing person report with Monroe police on Jan. 16 after her husband didn’t return home from a day trip to Athens.
Parker supposedly drove to Athens the afternoon of Jan. 15 to pick up a business partner, and they drove together to Madison County in order to look at potential investment property, authorities said.
Parker formed and incorporated Parker Poultry Farms in November 2010, and had plans to buy property to build chicken houses, relatives said.
But even before Kenisha Parker reported her husband missing, someone found her husband’s wallet north of downtown Athens the night of Jan. 15, authorities said. The next afternoon a different person found a gym bag with Parker’s clothes, and two days later, an Athens police officer found Parker’s car in the same general area where his other belongings were located.
Oglethorpe County investigators pinged Parker’s cellphone in the county’s Smithonia community but couldn’t find it after searching several days.
Then, on Feb. 20, some men found Parker’s body at the bottom of a well on vacant property in Oglethorpe’s Sandy Cross community.
An autopsy determined that Parker was shot more than once, and the condition of his body was consistent with it being in the well the entire time he was missing, authorities said.
Jim Fullington, special agent in charge of the GBI’s Athens office, would not say if an arrest in Parker’s murder was imminent, or even if investigators had identified any suspects.
But agents have spoken with several witnesses, including Athens resident Victor Blockum, according to Fullington, who told authorities he was the last person to see Parker alive and is familiar with the areas where Parker’s cellphone was pinged and his body was found.
According to authorities, Blockum said he last saw Parker between 4 and 4:30 p.m. Jan. 15, when Parker dropped Blockum off at his home off Danielsville Road after the men returned from inspecting investment property in Madison County.
Blockum was listed as chief financial officer of Parker’s planned poultry farm business and he tried to withdraw $500,000 from the company’s account the day after Parker was reported missing.
Blockum has experience in the poultry business and once lived in Oglethorpe County’s Farm Junction subdivision, located about seven miles from where Parker’s body was found, and even closer to the Smithonia community where the authorities searched for Parker’s cellphone.
Authorities have not called Blockum a suspect in the case and his attorney has not returned calls seeking comment.
But Blockum has had run-ins with the law in the past. He pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute cocaine and possession of tools for the commission of a crime in Madison County, and once was charged with aggravated assault and falsifying identification numbers of stolen vehicles in Oglethorpe County, according to the sheriff there.
Smith on Wednesday revealed that informants in his county have been assisting in the investigation of Parker’s murder.
There’s some confidential informants that’s worked with me in the past, and they’re out there getting some information that we’re still checking out,” Smith said.
Around the time of Parker’s death, investors in the poultry farm were growing impatient.
On Feb. 7, two weeks after Parker went missing, a group of disgruntled investors filed a lawsuit against Parker and Blockum.
The investors accuse Parker of fraud because they gave him $500,000 to invest in a planned poultry business but Parker hadn’t bought any land, used some of the money for personal reasons and hadn’t returned their cash, according to the lawsuit that was filed in Walton County Superior Court.
The investors also name Kenisha Parker in the lawsuit because she is listed as Parker Poultry Farms’ secretary.
In a response to the lawsuit filed Tuesday at the Walton County courthouse, Kenisha Parker’s attorney claimed Blockum tried to embezzle $490,000 from a Parker Poultry Farms bank account the day after Kenisha Parker reported her husband missing.
In his own response to the lawsuit, Blockum explained he was trying to withdraw the money to repay investors.
But there never were any investors, according to Kenisha Parker’s affidavit that was filed with the response to the lawsuit.
Most of the money — $475,000 — was from a woman, Kathy Scruggs, who won the lottery. But four other people contributed to make it total a half-million dollars, according to the lawsuit.
The $475,000 was a gift with no strings attached, Kenisha Parker said in her response to the lawsuit.
When Scruggs won a $25 million Powerball jackpot in October, Parker was her banker at Georgia United Credit Union in Decatur, according to Parker’s father-in-law and court documents.
She knew about Parker’s dream to start a poultry business and gave him the money as a gift, Holmes said. But she tried to get her money back in December after Parker hadn’t closed on any property and she wasn’t able to get in touch with him, according to the Walton County lawsuit that was filed three weeks after Parker disappeared.
In her response, Kenisha Parker stated that her husband in fact signed an agreement to buy property in November, with a closing date of Feb. 16, and that none of the investors tried to contact Parker Poultry Farms, either by phone or in writing.
Investigators have spoken with several other people who have had dealings with Parker, and Fullington urged more people to come forward.
“We have continued to receive information from the public, and we would ask anyone who knew Mr. Parker or had business dealings with him in the metro-Athens area to call,” the GBI agent said.