'People's Court' Mom Michelle Parker's Family Files Wrongful Death Suit
"The People's Court" - Michelle Parker
Michelle Parker, the Florida mother who disappeared after her episode of "People's Court" aired, is still missing, and now presumed dead by her family.
Her family has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Parker's ex-fiancé, Dale Smith, whom she battled on the court show.
Parker went missing on November 17, 2011, the very day her "People's Court" episode was on television. It depicted a dispute between Parker and Smith over a $5,000 engagement ring she allegedly threw over a hotel balcony during an argument. She was last seen dropping off their 3-year-old twins at his home.
"Right now we all believe that Michelle is in heaven," her mother, Yvonne Stewart, told the Orlando Sentinel last fall. "We believe she was murdered, and we believe that someday the truth will come out."
With police finding no trace of Parker and very little evidence (aside from her cell phone, which was found in a nearby lake), her family is now turning to the civil courts for justice.
"A civil case is the only way that Michelle's family will finally get answers," the family's lawyer, John Morgan, told People, adding, "We believe that Dale Smith is responsible for her death."
Smith's attorneys say their hearts go out to Parker's family, but maintain Smith's innocence in her disappearance. "After a very thorough investigation by us and the police, there has been no evidence that ties Dale Smith to her death," says Mark NeJame.
Parker and Smith's tumultuous relationship was captured by the "People's Court" cameras. In their appearance, they argued over the ring, visitation rights, and cheating allegations. Parker called Smith "malicious and vindictive ... especially when he's been drinking."
"He shouldn't have put his hands on me, and shouldn't have put his hands on me prior," she told the court.
But Judge Marilyn Milian chastised Parker for not letting Smith see his twins for a few weeks, then called them both juvenile and "complete idiots." She ruled in Smith's favor, ordering both parties to pay for half of the lost ring.
"He doesn't deserve either half after what he's done and put me through, but it is what it is," Parker huffed after the verdict.
After the taping, she reportedly told her mother that it was the "most humiliating experience of my life. I don't even ever want to see it. I wish I had never gone."