ATHENS, Ga. -- Neither authorities nor loved ones have lost hope that someone will be brought to justice for the murder of an Athens banker a year ago today.
Charles Stephen Parker, 25, disappeared on Jan. 15, 2012, the same day authorities believe he was shot and killed in Oglethorpe County and his body thrown down a well.
“We still have some pretty strong information that’s pointing us in specific directions, but we’re not at the point of putting anyone in jail,” said Jesse Maddox, assistant special agent in charge of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Athens regional office.
Parker’s only sibling, Patrick Parker, has ideas about who may be involved with his brother’s death. But he’s placed his trust with authorities.
“One year is a long time, and I don’t understand why no one has been arrested, but the authorities have their process to follow,” he said.
Parker was a University of Georgia graduate who lived in Walton County. He was assistant manager of a Bank of America branch in Athens.
An aspiring entrepreneur, Parker had big plans for the future. One venture was Parker Poultry Farms, and he took on investors for the planned business for which he already had company officers.
Each year, Parker would deliver Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech at the Anointed Word Evangelistic Tabernacle Church in Lithonia to mark the slain civil rights leader’s birthday. Last year was no different.
After delivering the 2012 speech, Parker drove to Athens to pick up the poultry business’ chief financial officer, a man who lived off Danielsville Road.
That man, Victor Blockum, is the last known person to see Parker alive.
Authorities said that after Parker’s wife reported him missing on Jan. 16, they interviewed Blockum, who told them that the day before he and Parker had viewed some land in Madison County for the poultry company, after which time Parker dropped off Blockum at his home, between 4 and 4:30 p.m. Jan. 15.
Later that night, but before Parker was reported missing, someone found his wallet north of downtown Athens. The day after, a different person found a gym bag with Parker’s clothes.
Two days later, an Athens-Clarke police officer found Parker’s car parked on College Avenue at Hoyt Street — the same general area where his other belongings were located.
A little more than a month later, on Feb. 20, some men found Parker’s body at the bottom of a well on vacant property in Oglethorpe County’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.
Early on in the investigation, it seemed as though authorities might crack the case at any moment.
“I feel real good about the case, and I feel an arrest will be made,” Oglethorpe County Sheriff Mike Smith said a month after Parker’s body was found.
Some people even thought that Blockum might be involved.
In addition to being with Parker on his last day alive, Blockum tried to withdraw $500,000 from the fledgling poultry company’s account the day after Parker was reported missing.
On Feb. 7, two weeks after Parker went missing, more people were added to the cast of characters in the mystery.
A group of disgruntled Parker Poultry Farms investors filed suit against him in Walton County Superior Court, accusing Parker of fraud for failing to use money they had given him to start up the poultry business and using some of it for personal reasons.
Investigators subsequently spoke with Blockum, the poultry farm investors and other people who had business dealings with Parker, authorities said. Rather than narrowing their focus, investigators found that the case had grown more complicated. Six months after Parker’s murder, the GBI put out a second call for the public’s assistance.
“It has proven to be a very difficult case,” said Maddox, of the GBI’s Athens office. “There were many points where we thought we had viable suspects, and we went down those avenues as far as we could. When it gets down to it, we still don’t have anyone in custody.”
Investigators have gone down plenty of dead ends, according to Maddox — like when people in custody for unrelated crimes claimed to have information about Parker’s murder, only for investigators find out they were lies by criminals seeking to make deals for lighter sentences.
“I’m sure there’s plenty of information that will lead us down the right path,” the GBI agent said Monday.
Maddox commended members of Parker’s family for their cooperation in the investigation and perseverance.
“Mr. Parker’s family has been extremely patient with everyone, and they hold on to the hope we are going to solve the case,” Maddox said. “I believe one day we will.”