O.C. Grand Jury Heard Parker Admit 6 Killings
The confessed serial killer remembered that one victim was wearing jeans and a brown sweater, her stereo playing, when he crept up from behind and clubbed her head with a piece of lumber.
Another victim, he recalled, lived near a Tastee Freez. One had a brown purse on her kitchen table. One had just mixed herself a drink before he attacked her. Another victim had dozed off in front on her television when he hit her with a mallet.
And then there was the attack he almost forgot, the one where the victim’s little boy asked him, “What’s wrong with Mommy?”
Almost 20 years after the notorious “bludgeon killer” bashed and raped a series of woman in their Orange County homes, Gerald Parker confessed to the crimes in sometimes striking detail, according to Orange County Grand Jury testimony made public Monday.
Parker, a 41-year-old former Marine whose life has oscillated between homelessness and prison since a 1980 rape conviction, is facing six counts of murder in a series of attacks in Costa Mesa, Tustin and Anaheim in 1978 and 1979. Another man, the husband of one of the victims, had been wrongly convicted and imprisoned for 17 years in one of the attacks to which Parker has now confessed.
Although Parker has entered a plea of not guilty to the crimes, police detectives who appeared before the grand jury during several days of testimony recounted how Parker confessed to each of the killings, transcripts reveal.
“He admits either raping or attempting to rape all six after he had struck them on the head with either a 2-by-4 [club] or a mallet or hammer,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Mike Jacobs told the grand jurors, who returned a six-count murder indictment against Parker on July 30.
In taped interviews with investigators, Parker denied stalking or targeting the women he is accused of killing. Instead, he said, he would drive around in a drunken stupor, looking for open windows or unlocked doors.
“Usually, when I come out of bars or, you know, I get into a drunken stupor, the first thing I start thinking about is a prostitute or a woman,” Parker said. “You know, if my luck doesn’t hold up in a bar . . . then I’d go out looking, and that’s where this started, you know, looking through windows or hoping that you find a door open, that sort of thing.”
Parker contended, however, that he didn’t intend to kill any of his victims. According to the transcripts, Parker said he used a piece of 2-by-4 lumber in many of the assaults, swinging it like a baseball bat, because he did not feel it was a particularly dangerous weapon.
The prosecutor disputed that assertion, however, describing the clubbings as “overkill.” He noted that one victim died from at least six hammer blows to the head, and that some young women died while fighting for their lives.
The case against Parker, a state prison inmate at the time of his latest arrest, unfolded earlier this summer when investigators said a new system of genetic testing linked him to the attacks on the women.
In all, authorities have said they have DNA or other evidence, including fingerprints in some cases, linking Parker to the murders of Kimberly Gaye Rawlins, 21, of Costa Mesa; Marolyn Kay Carleton, 31, of Costa Mesa; Debora Kennedy, 24, of Tustin; and Debra Lynn Senior, 17, of Costa Mesa; and Sandra Kay Fry, 17, of Anaheim.
He is also charged in the 1979 bludgeon attack on 21-year-old Dianna Green, and the murder of the full-term baby she was carrying. Kevin Lee Green of Tustin, who was married to Dianna Green at the time, was convicted and imprisoned for 17 years in the attack. Kevin Green was freed from custody in June following Parker’s arrest.
Parker, who faces a possible death sentence, said it was Green’s imprisonment that bothered him the most over the years, and caused him at one point to call a newspaper about this injustice. It was not clear from the transcripts, however, that he ever talked to a reporter about the case.
Initially, Parker denied knowing anything at all about the killings when questioned by investigators, even though the murders were well-publicized at the time and he was stationed at the El Toro Marine Corps Air Station.
But the detectives pressed on, the transcripts show, telling him they knew he wanted to “get this off your chest” and provide explanations for relatives of the victims.
Eventually, Parker started talking, lowering his head and crying at times, detectives said.
“First of all, I believe that there is a man on death row because of something that I did,” Parker said, admitting to the attack that landed Kevin Green in prison. “Out of all the murders and the crimes that I committed over the years,” Parker was quoted as saying, “that was the one that bothered me the most. Now don’t ask me why.”
Parker, who told detectives he was taking antidepressants to control “violent tendencies” and the “voices” in his head, summed up his lifestyle in those days by saying: “Drink, drink, drink, drink. Drink and use drugs.”
But Parker was still able to provide detectives with the smallest of details about the attacks, remembering street names, apartment complexes and how he attacked the women.
In one case, Anaheim Det. Steve Rodig testified that Parker admitted killing Fry in her South Knott Avenue apartment on Dec. 1, 1978. According to Rodig’s testimony, Parker said he was driving to a friend’s house in Garden Grove when he saw the apartment complex where Fry lived and decided to stop.
Rodig testified that Parker specifically remembered that he walked “to the rear of [Fry’s] apartment and found a window with the screen off and the window slightly ajar.” Armed with an 18-inch piece of 2-by-4 lumber, Parker entered the ground floor apartment and waited in the living room until Fry finished a telephone conversation in the kitchen, Rodig testified.
Parker then approached the young woman, whose back was turned, and clubbed her two or three times on the head, according to Rodig’s testimony.
In his summation to the grand jury, prosecutor Jacobs said Parker then dragged the young woman into the bedroom where he strangled and sexually assaulted her on the bed.
The accused killer escaped through the same window, telling Rodig that Fry was still alive and making “gurgling sounds” when he left, according to the transcript. Before driving away, he said he threw the weapon on the roof of the apartment complex.
According to the grand jury transcripts, Parker said “that he had difficulty communicating with women” but “did not have a particular hatred or dislike for women,” Rodig testified.
According to the court documents, Parker told investigators he was plagued by alcohol and drug problems at the time of the killings, and when he committed other crimes. In 1980, he confessed to raping a 13-year-old Tustin girl, and was sentenced to six years.
Later, he was also convicted of assault, burglary and check fraud, spending additional time in prison. In between prison sentences, Parker was among the throngs of homeless people in Santa Ana.
Veteran Costa Mesa Det. Lynda Giesler, who investigated the killings of the three women in her city, told Parker one of the first questions she wanted to ask was, “Can you tell me why?”
“I don’t know,” he replied.
Parker was later asked how he was feeling.
"[May God] have mercy on my soul.”