Charges were dropped last week in a case against a woman accused of looting the home of a tornado victim last year in Vilonia.
Jennifer Shaw Parker was arrested in June and cited for theft of property, a Class “B” felony, after the family of an elderly neighbor who was killed in the tornado alleged Parker stole livestock and jewelry from the man’s residence.
“After interviewing over ten people and looking through the file, it was evident that the original information was inaccurate and unfounded,” said 20th Judicial Prosecuting Attorney Cody Hiland on Tuesday. “Our job is to seek justice, and justice doesn’t always mean a win. Justice in this case meant dropping the charges.”
Lt. Matt Rice told the Log Cabin in June the alleged victim’s family members had contacted law enforcement because they had been told Parker had been showing off the items that she allegedly taken for herself after sifting through rubble. In an interview with the Log Cabin, Parker said that the man whose property she was accused of stealing was “like a family member.”
Craig Garvin, 63, lived across the street from Parker in the Black Oak Ranch area of Vilonia when his manufactured home was destroyed. Prior to his death, Parker said she had driven Garvin to several doctor’s appointments at the Veteran’s Administration Hospital and that her family was close with him. She denied taking anything from him or his family.
Parker said on Wednesday though she is relieved by the exoneration, closure is still out of reach. “It's despicable that I have had to explain all of this to my 9-year-old, but now the truth is in print and he's old enough to read it,” she said. “Even now there's no closure. I'm not going to get any apologies. There's just a hole there that I'm never going to be able to fill.”
Parker said she still questions the degree to which the accusations may have affected the cessation of volunteer work in the community.
“The donations have stopped, volunteers have stopped — the damage has not stopped and I don't know how much the assistance may have stopped because I was accused of something so erroneous,” she said.
Parker said the community is still in desperate need of volunteers and encourages anyone who wishes to help in any capacity to do so.
“We still really need weed eaters, mowers, bush hogs, everything,” Parker said. “There are still appliances sitting in yards and curtains alongside the road. We still need help.”