Florida authorities awaiting autopsy report

Published 7:08 pm Friday, August 18, 2006

Although autopsies have been completed on the three victims in last Tuesday’s slayings in Florida in which Poplarville area resident Ruby Yolanda Parker has been charged, the results have not been officially released as of Friday morning.

Clewiston Police Chief Don Gutshall had said Thursday morning he had expected the autopsy results sometime that afternoon.

The three victims were identified as Joey Glenn Whitaker, 52, Carolyn Cox Whitaker, 53, and Myrtle Lee Cox, 80, all of the Clewiston area. The Whitaker’s were husband and wife and Cox was Carolyn Whitaker’s mother, Gutshall said.

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Parker has been charged with three counts of pre-meditated murder in the case and is being held without bond in Florida. The other suspect in the slayings, Richard Harry Harker, 35, allegedly took his own life after police stopped the vehicle in which the pair was riding.

Gutshall said Thursday that his department’s investigation of the victim’s house where the slayings allegedly occurred was almost complete, allowing the house to be turned back to control of the victims’ family. He said the overall investigation is still ongoing.

It had been reported that Harker had been in the Poplarville-Pearl River County area in relation to hurricane repair work and Gutshall said that hurricane repair in Florida was Harker’s apparent connection to the three victims.

Gutshall said the initial investigation indicated Harker and Parker were out riding in the Clewiston area, needed some money and allegedly decided to go to the victim’s house with robbery as a motive.

He said Harker and the victims had apparently casually known each other for some time in a business sense and indicated Harker had performed some type of repair work in relation to previous storms. Gutshall said the victims lived in a more upscale area of Clewiston, a city of approximately 7,000 located in southern Florida, about halfway between Fort Myers and West Palm Beach.

He said there had been some “wildly inaccurate” information released by Pearl River County law enforcement to a Florida media outlet that the victims were part of Harker’s ex-wife’s family. Gutshall said this was not correct.

He said as far as he knew the victims’ connection to Harker was solely work-related.

He said the inaccurate information has “caused me some grief with these families,” (the Parkers and the ex-wife’s families).