A PRISON warden’s wife who vanished after being kidnapped by an escaped killer has been found still living with him nearly 11 years later, running a chicken farm in Texas.
Detectives said that Bobbi Parker, 42, a former Sunday school teacher with two children, had numerous opportunities to flee Randolph Dial over the years but chose instead to settle down with him to a quiet, rural lifestyle.
Some believe that she may have been a willing accomplice. Others speculate that she may have developed Stockholm syndrome, whereby hostages develop a sympathetic bond with their captors as a survival mechanism.
Mrs Parker said she was held captive the whole time, staying with the killer out of fear her family would be harmed if she fled. After she was reunited with her husband, Texas ranger Tom Davis said: "It looked like a husband and wife who hadn’t seen each other in 11 years."
Salvador Hernandez, an FBI agent, said that while it was unusual for someone to be held against their will for so long, it was not unprecedented.
"There have been cases of this kind and typically this will result when someone believes family members might be in danger," he said.
However, locals were sceptical. Patti Hall, who manages a shop in the town of Campti, where Mrs Parker would buy groceries, said: "She didn’t seem like she was in no fear for her life or anything like that. She didn’t slip me a note to call the sheriff or anything. She was just one of the chicken folks."
Mrs Parker’s ordeal began in 1994, when she was a craft instructor at the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite, Oklahoma. Her husband, Randy Parker, was the deputy chief warden and Dial was serving a life sentence for murder. Described as a smooth-talking ladies’ man, he was not considered a security risk and was allowed to help Mrs Parker run an inmate pottery programme.
On 30 August, 1994, they disappeared together in her mini-van. Dial says he forced Mrs Parker to chauffeur him to freedom by holding a knife to her neck as she drove.
Over the next few days, she twice telephoned home in tears, saying little, but telling her husband to let their daughters, aged eight and ten, know that she would be back soon. She had not been heard from since.
After settling near Campti, where they shared a mobile home deep in the woods, Dial laid low, sending Mrs Parker into town to do the shopping and cash cheques. She told locals that they were husband and wife, Richard and Samantha Deahl.
In 1998, Dial allowed himself one major outing, driving 400 miles to Oklahoma City, where Charles Sasser, a former detective, was autographing copies of a book he had written about Dial’s disappearance. Dial bought a copy and queued to have it signed by the author, whose detective skills that day were seemingly not at their sharpest. Unrecognised, Dial then drove back to Texas.
In November 2001, Mr Sasser received a call from Dial that he says proves his theory that Mrs Parker, now 42, was not a victim, but an accomplice.
"I asked him, ‘What happened to Bobbi?’ Because at that time most people thought she was dead," Mr Sasser recalls. "He said, ‘She’s right here. You want to talk to her? Hey, Bobbi, I have someone on the phone who wants to talk to you’."
When Mrs Parker came to the telephone, the detective advised her to let her family know she was alive. "She said something to the effect that they were better off without hearing from her," he revealed. "There is no way she was held for ten years against her will."
Dial, 60, insisted differently following his arrest on Monday by FBI agents acting on a tip.
"She thought I would kill her family," he claimed. "She was so afraid that she could not run, because she was convinced I would come after her."
Newton Johnson, sheriff for Shelby County, said: "It’s unusual that someone would be held against her will for 11 years. But anything’s possible."