International investigator, K-9 dog join Parker search

14 September 2007
 Chattanooga Times/Free Press
Chloe Morrison

The investigation into the disappearance of Walker County 911 dispatcher Theresa Parker is a "high-priority" case, FBI agents said Thursday, and authorities unveiled tools to be used in the search.

Martin Grime, a 30-year veteran of military and civil police work in the United Kingdom and developer of a K-9 forensic program, has been asked to help in the investigation, along with his dog, Eddie. They are assisting the FBI, Georgia Bureau of Investigation and Walker County Sheriff's Department in narrowing leads.

"Hopefully we will find Theresa Parker," Mr. Grime said. "Hopefully we will find evidence. Hopefully all the information we claim will give us a line of inquiry and it just saves conducting 50 lines of inquiry."

Mrs. Parker has been missing since March 21. Her estranged husband, former LaFayette, Ga., police Officer Sam Parker, has been called a "person of interest" by the FBI.

Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson said Thursday that Mr. Parker is the only person of interest in the case.

Mr. Parker's friend and former co-worker Harbin "Ben" Chaffin is facing four felony charges relating to the case, including lying to investigators and obstructing justice. At a news conference Thursday, Sheriff Wilson said there is no new information about Mr. Chaffin, who made his $10,000 bond and returned to Mobile, Ala., in late July.

FBI Agent John Parrish said dogs such as Eddie, a 7-year-old English springer spaniel, are used in "violent crime matters," such as the Parker case.

He also said search dogs assisted authorities in April and provided valuable help. The additional help marks a "new phase of the investigation," Agent Parrish said.

"We wanted to bring in Mr. Grime because he is renowned for his ability to do certain things," Mr. Parrish said. "We (will) go to areas that are of investigative interest to us and not only eliminate (leads, but) follow up on leads."

Mr. Grime said he and Eddie will help formulate a strategy and find evidence, but officials would not comment on when or where new searches will be conducted.

"He is a trained victim recovery dog," Mr. Grime said. "He is a wide-area screening asset that will locate human remains either in the whole or part or down to the cellular level."

Jonathan Wilson, Mrs. Parker's brother-in-law, said the family is "upbeat" that authorities brought in the best.

"It is like bringing your pinch hitter up to bat at the bottom of the ninth," Mr. Wilson said. "We are really optimistic."

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