ORLANDO – The Orlando Police Department is pledging to continue working vigilantly to locate a local woman who went missing, in a case that continues to attract national attention.
“It’s still an active investigation,” said Mike Moreschi, a homicide detective with the Orlando PD, in reference to the case of Michelle Parker, 33, who vanished last month.
Her mysterious disappearance has caught the attention of the national media, in part because Parker had appeared on an episode of the television show “The People’s Court,” along with her ex-boyfriend, Dale Smith II. The couple went on the show to argue about a lost $5,000 engagement ring, and the judge ordered Parker to pay Smith for half the cost of the ring.
After dropping off her twins with Smith, their father, at his home on S. Semoran Boulevard, she vanished. Parker’s family reported her missing after she didn’t show up for work at The Barn nightclub in Sanford that same night.
Last week, Orlando police announced they had found Parker’s missing iPhone near the Nela Bridge in Belle Isle.
This case remains one of the most high profile in Orlando right now, and continues to be the focus of segments on national morning talk shows like “Good Morning America.”
Moreschi said the case is still open, and is being vigorously investigated by the Orlando PD’s homicide unit.
“We’re 26 days into this investigation,” he said. “This is the most massive effort we have ever been involved in.”
A lot of the focus of the investigation has been on Smith, 40, who is believed to have been the last person to see Parker alive before she disappeared on Nov. 17. He has not been arrested and charged with a crime, though.
Parker’s disappearance did prompt her family and friends to open a command center in south Orlando to assist police in the search for the missing mother. Earlier this month, the command center was shut down as the search efforts expanded to Seminole County, while the Orange County Sheriff’s Office dive team searched a retention pond near the home of Smith’s parents.
Moreschi said this is truly a joint effort between not just Orlando PD and the Orange County Sheriff’s Office, but the entire community coming together to help.
“This is a team effort, and we’re going to keep this up to give this family some answers,” he said.
That means continuing to search for any locations where Parker could possibly have vanished, he added.
“We feel confident that the five places we know about have been searched thoroughly,” he said. “But we’ll keep that up in a continued effort to find her.”
Moreschi spoke this morning during the Orlando Police Department’s Year in Review 2011 press conference.
As Police Chief Paul Rooney noted, this is not the only very high profile case that Orlando has confronted this year. The city has also drawn media attention for the arrest of a police officer for illegally buying the pain-killing drug Oxycodone, the ongoing Occupy Orlando protests that have led to some arrests, and the 25 arrests that resulted from the group Food not Bombs feeding homeless people in violation of city ordinances.
And despite the national press coverage given to these cases, he said, overall Orlando has become a safer city this year.
“We’ve had a huge reduction in violent crime,” Rooney said.
Parker’s family has a “Michelle Parker Missing Person” page on Facebook that includes the tip line that people can call, 1-800-423-TIPS. It can make them eligible to get a $5,000 reward if they provide information that helps solve this case. The public can also call 321-235-5300 to assist the family.
The most recent posting on the site is dated on Monday, and reads: “Today marks 26 days since Michelle went missing. It’s hard to believe that much time has pass since I saw her face … I don’t have any new updates today, other than, police are working very hard every day sifting through all the information collected. Ground searches are still being done by law enforcement. It is a tough road that has been laid before us, but walk it we shall till the end is reached.”
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