Today is officially "Super Tuesday" in the states that are voting in the GOP Presidential primaries. But for me, there is nothing "Super" about the date that changed my life forever.
On March 6, 1993, my beautiful mother, Gail Renee Parker, was found brutally murdered in the desert wasteland of Tucson, Arizona. Period, end quote. The case remains unsolved, but the wound inflicted upon my heart remains wide open 19-years-later.
In July 1992, I moved to Los Angeles "permanently" and decided to take the entertainment world by storm after a protracted illness. I can still see my mama looking out the window as my Mazda RX-7 pulled out of the driveway with tears streaming down her face. I tried to choke back my own emotions, but the song, "She's Leaving Home," by the Beatles played over and over again in my mind. Mom was my best friend, closest confidant and I couldn't stand the idea of not seeing her face every day from this point forward. But she knew I had to be in California to have a chance to shine as a TV writer/producer, so I left to fulfill my dreams.
Instead, my greatest nightmare came true. I didn't lose my mother that day, but eight-months-later, I lost her in the worst way imaginable.
At the tender age of 25, I was quickly moving up the corporate ladder at companies like Warner Bros., Fox Entertainment and the local news channel KTTV. One night, my other friend Danielle and I went to the hottest club of that time, Roxbury for a night out on the town. I wasn't a drinker, but I distinctly remember Anthony Kiedis from the Red Hot Chili Peppers was hitting on me all night. I was annoyed and decided to go home, as I had to ride back to Studio City, the valley which seemed like 100 miles away from the Sunset Strip.
I had a sick feeling in my stomach when I saw the light beeping on my answering machine. I don't know why, but a feeling of dread swept over my body. I wasn't going to play the message, as it was 2 a.m., but I knew something terrible had happened to my mama. Not a car accident, not a heart attack or a "natural" demise. When I heard my daddy's voice asking me to call whenever I got home, I knew that my mother, my everything was dead.
The screams which came from the depths of my soul drowned out what he was saying. All I remember was falling to my knees crying, "No!"
My friend Danielle had lost her leather jacket in the valet parking section of the club that night. So I called her and said, "if you think you lost something, you should hear what I just lost." She didn't know what to say, and people still have trouble finding the words to express themselves to me regarding my mother's murder. Some people pretend she never existed, others simply say, "I'm so sorry," and most just try and ignore the subject and tell me that I should "get over it" by now.
For those of you who haven't lost a parent to murder, may I inform you that I will never get over this? Does anyone have an idea what it is like to go to a police department and see your mama's skull bashed in and covered with blood? I do. So, for the people who say I should move on, respectfully you can all screw yourselves. I will never be at peace with her death, excuse me, killing, until the perpetrators of this massacre are found.
Since 1993, I have been screaming into a vast media abyss trying to singlehandedly find my mother's killer. I discovered a dirty little secret. If you are "pitching" a story about a 51-year-old white woman who isn't famous, super rich or had the benefit of being murdered in a "sexy" way (words coming from a producer at America's Most Wanted, in 1994) no one cares about what happens to you. Middle-aged are ignored, put on the shelf, discarded like a piece of old bread.
I did spots on Donahue, Nancy Grace (if you count a 20-30 second blurb anything), Geraldo, The John Walsh Show, ET, CNN.com, radio shows, every Arizona newspaper and TV station multiple times. Only the beautiful Rolonda Watts, then host of her own talk show Rolonda, was the first person to dedicate a half-hour to my mother's story. She said that I touched her so deeply when we met at the OJ Simpson trial. I was wearing a shirt that read, "Murder is not entertainment, just ask me." A clever group, now called Homicide Survivors, came up with that motto -- and it got me the exposure needed to present my mom's case to the national media.
And to Rolonda Watts, the most beautiful soul I have ever known outside of Gail Parker, I can never possibly thank you enough for the personal interest you showed in my mother's story. Thanks to Facebook, Ro and I reunited after many years and she will always be a lifelong friend and sister to me for her love and support during my most difficult time.
In the interim, I have pressured the Tucson Police Department, who botched the investigation so badly it is obscene, to re-do the DNA testing from the blood found under my mother's fingernails. The motive in her murder was robbery. My mom's purse was stolen, money gone, jewelry gone, and just the use of a Mobil credit card at a station in Phoenix, AZ on the morning of her death. It is likely that the perps fled the state and moved north. My mom's handbag was found by a fisherman in Kanab, Utah one month after her murder in April 1993.
The TPD (Tucson Police Department), were able to get some DNA samples of blood, as my mother fought for her life from the bastards who killed her for a bag. They have seven DNA markers, which makes this case ineligible for entry into the national FBI cold case database, because you need 13 markers. What happened to her was the perfect storm of mistakes, bad timing and again, being too old and unimportant for people to care.
Never mind that Gail Parker was a 51-year-old mother, daughter, wife, sister and aunt who was cherished by the people that knew her. My mom volunteered at Tucson General Hospital in the eldercare department where she was told by the seniors that she visited them more than their children did.
Gail Parker read to the blind on a station called, "Sun Sounds," to soothe their souls from the daily horrors of not being able to see.
Gail Parker was an environmental and social activist long before it was cool to be involved with those issues. She spoke effortlessly in public at Syosset High School, my alma mater about the issues that affect women and the country-at-large. Gail spoke her mind and sometimes got in trouble for it, but her dedication to her core convictions was intractable.
But what Gail Parker did best was serve as a mother to me. She told me there was nothing that I could not accomplish... that the sky was the limit. My mama believed in me, she encouraged me to get an education in journalism, an internship at a TV station during school. To set up a bank account at 13, start investing, and learning how to manage money for my future. Out of all of the lessons that my school taught me, the lessons I learned from my mother were the most valuable.
To be a person who cares about those less fortunate. To put yourself in other people's shoes. Never to be judgmental, because you never know what people go through privately. To care about the earth, but always focus on LOVE for your family and friends above all else. Even though my mama didn't have an ideal childhood (to say the least), she showed me that love and affection every day of my 25-years with her.
My life has never been the same since March 6, 1993. The day I lost the best thing that ever happened to me... 51-year-old, Gail Parker. My mother, my best friend, my heart and my soul.
Please, I implore anyone that may have information about my mother's murder to come forward and give my father and I the justice that we need so badly. Take a moment to look at the appeal I made on CNN.com, as I gave critical information about my mom's murder and the few leads we have. This crime should be classified as a federal cold case since state lines were crossed, but the police and FBI aren't willing to cooperate. Help me get Gail Parker the justice and media exposure she deserves.
There is a $100,000 reward for the person who provides information that leads to the capture and prosecution of the person(s) that killed her. You may call the Tucson Police Department at (520)-791-4444. You may also go online and fill out a one-page form anonymously, if you so choose. Just please, from a daughter who loved her mother more than anyone in this world, help me gain the closure I need to save the second half of my life.
God Bless You All and Stay Safe, Danielle Parker
Follow Danielle Parker on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Danielle_Parker