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Charges were filed Wednesday against convicted killer and rapist Gregory Parks in connection to the 1984 stabbing death of a 13-year-old girl.
The Wilson County Sheriff’s Office obtained arrest warrants charging Parks with first-degree murder and first-degree rape in the death of Marsha Anita Whitted, whose nude body was found off Evansdale Road near Frank Price Church Road on Oct. 23, 1984. Wednesday marked the 35th anniversary of her body’s discovery.
Parks is currently serving a life sentence in the 2015 kidnapping and murder of Isabel “Chaveli” Palacios. Her body has never been found.
ADVANCES IN DNA TECHNOLOGY
Sheriff Calvin Woodard told The Wilson Times that detectives were able to connect Parks to the 35-year-old case due to advances in DNA technology from 2012 when the sheriff’s office submitted evidence collected during the original investigation.
Woodard said his office resubmitted evidence to the state crime lab in March and received the results recently.
“We were able to solve it and bring closure to the family and the community,” Woodard said.
Woodard said Parks was interviewed in prison on Monday and denied all allegations in the case. Woodard said the sheriff’s office is working with the district attorney’s office to have Parks brought back to Wilson County for his first court appearance on the new charges, which could take several days.
Whitted’s mother had reported her daughter missing to the sheriff’s office on Oct. 22, 1984 — one day prior to her nude body being found. Whitted was raped and also stabbed at least 62 times, officials said.
The 13-year-old was last seen at the intersection of Nash and East streets near the fire station talking to people in a passing vehicle. She was wearing a red top and black pants.
At the time, Whitted lived with her mother in the White Oak Acres community, but was visiting with her grandmother in the city of Wilson when she was reported missing, according to The Wilson Times’ archives.
Woodard said he met with Whitted’s mother a few weeks ago and told her he was still working on the case and hoped to have some good news soon.
CLOSE TO HOME
This particular case hit close to home for Woodard. He grew up in the same community as Whitted and he and the young victim knew each other.
“Everybody felt the tragedy at the time,” Woodard recalled. “We all felt the impact when it was found out that she was murdered.”
Woodard said he remembers parents warning their children about taking precautions to stay safe after Whitted’s body was discovered.
“It was scary,” Woodard said. “Parents were on guard and didn’t want their children out late because they didn’t know what was going on.”
Woodard said the investigation into Whitted’s case is still ongoing. Detectives have been searching multiple areas and examining old maps to get an overall view of the crime scene back in 1984. Investigators have also been looking for possible new evidence in the case.
“You just never know what you may uncover from 35 years ago,” Woodard said.
Parks has previous convictions ranging from manslaughter to attempted first-degree and second-degree rape. Woodard said sheriff’s detectives have also taken a deep dive into Parks’ criminal history and previous cases.
“It appears to show a pattern of a serial rapist,” Woodard said.
In 2013, a Wilson County jury convicted Parks on two counts of participating in the prostitution of a minor.
While he was sentenced to decades in prison, he was released early after the N.C. Court of Appeals overturned those convictions in 2014, citing a lack of evidence in the case.
In 2015, Parks was arrested after Palacios was last seen at his Ward Boulevard home on July 31, 2015.
Less than 12 hours after her family reported her missing on Aug. 4, 2015, Wilson police roped off the home and began its investigation. While Palacios’ body has never been found, investigators discovered blood and the woman’s DNA inside Parks’ home.
In November 2017, a Pitt County jury found Parks guilty of killing the young mother. The trial was moved from Wilson County due to pretrial publicity. The N.C. Court of Appeals upheld that conviction in an opinion handed down this May.
Woodard said anyone with information on the Marsha Whitted case can call the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office at 252-237-2118.