The daughter of a man on trial for arson and the murder of a Hamilton firefighter testified today that she noticed things missing from her parent’s home before they left on a trip to Las Vegas.
Lester Parker, 67, and his nephew, William “Billy” Tucker, 46, are both charged with arson and murder in the fire at Parker’s Pater Avenue home that killed firefighter Patrick Wolterman on Dec. 28, 2015.
Prosecutors say Parker was “under water” financially in the winter of 2015 and hatched a plan to burn the house and collect insurance money. His nephew, they said, agreed to light the fire for payment in pills.
Cheryl Sullivan, Parker’s daughter, testified Wednesday during the third day of the trial.
Sullivan drove her parents to the airport on Dec. 27, 2015, for the couple’s trip to Las Vegas.
She testified that she noticed things missing from the house that had been there on Christmas Eve.
“Some things were moved around, some things not where they were supposed to be,” Sullivan said, adding that angel figurines had replaced family photos in the living room and a “butler” statue was gone.
Prosecutors say Parker packed up items he held dear, including pictures of his two daughters, and removed them from the house before the fire.
Sullivan testified that her father handed her four envelopes with bills in them, including the mortgage and insurance, and told her to “hold them.”
Before boarding the plane, Sullivan said her father called her and told her: “The important papers are in the garage if something happens.”
After the fire, Sullivan said she called her father in Las Vegas. He said he couldn’t comeback right away because it would be too expensive, she testified.
Weeks later, when her parents moved to another home in Hamilton, Sullivan said she found a bag that her parents had taken to Las Vegas and in it were several framed family photos, including those that she and her sister had noticed missing from the Pater Avenue home’s living room.
“He (Parker) said they had been out in the garage and the detectives said he could get them when he was over there with them,” Sullivan said.
During cross examination by the defense, Sullivan said it was not unusual for her mother to move things around because she liked to clean.
Parker’s attorney David Washington asked her if she was aware the angel figurines that had replaced the photos were Christmas gifts from Parker to his wife. Cheryl said she was not aware.
The Parkers’ older daughter is expected to testify this afternoon.