Daughter to police: Family may have been part of arson that killed Hamilton firefighter

The older daughter of a man on trial for the murder of a Hamilton firefighter testified Wednesday that she is a recovering addict who, while in jail, told police that her family may have been involved in the deadly arson.

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Melissa Lainhart-Jones is the older daughter of Lester Parker. 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.

Lainhart-Jones took the stand Wednesday and testified she was an addict in the fall of 2015 and stole pills from her father’s home. She is now a recovering addict, she said.

For the past four weeks leading up to the trial, she has been housed at a hotel paid for by the city of Hamilton, she said.

Lainhart-Jones said she awoke about 4:30 a.m. Dec. 28, 2015, to see a a television screen with her family home in flames. She went to the scene and called her father, who was in Las Vegas with her mother.

From Las Vegas, Lainhart-Jones said Parker told her to “get my (expletive) out of there. Someone is going to pay dearly for that one.”

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In April 2016, Lainhart-Jones said she was in the Butler County Jail for a probation violation. Paramedics at the jail had treated her for illness and they talked about the death of Patrick Wolterman, she said.

When her father came to visit her in jail, Lainhart-Jones said she told him about the conversation.

“He (Parker) put his head down. He said, ‘tell them that I did not mean for that to happen,’ ” Lainhart-Jones said.

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During cross examination by defense attorneys for Parker and Tucker, Lainhart-Jones said she told detectives Tucker as well as another cousin may have been involved in the arson.

Since the fire, Lainhart-Jones said she has received $1,200 in payments from police for information about that fire and to pay her phone bill.

During her testimony, defense attorneys hammered home the fact that there is a monetary reward for information about the deadly arson.

“But I was telling them (police) before money was involved,” Lainhart-Jones said.

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