Florida man named 'primary suspect' in ex-fiancee's disappearance

Michelle Parker was last seen driving near Orlando, Florida, on November 17.

Story highlights

  • Dale Smith Jr. is a suspect in Michelle Parker's disappearance, a police chief says
  • She was last seen November 17, the day she and Smith were on "The People's Court"
  • Her mother calls the naming of Smith as a suspect "sad" but "inevitable"
Orlando's police chief on Monday named a Florida man as the "primary suspect" in the case of the man's missing ex-fiancee, who hasn't been seen since the two appeared on an episode of "The People's Court."
Police Chief Paul Rooney identified Dale Smith Jr., who relatives say is the father of two of Michelle Parker's children, as the lone suspect in the case.
"We had to look at every aspect of the case before we could come out publicly and state that Mr. Smith is our primary focus," Rooney said at a news conference. "We will not rest until Michelle is found."
Although Rooney publicly identified Smith in the case, no charges have been filed.
The woman was last seen driving near Orlando on November 17, shortly after "The People's Court" segment that had been taped months earlier aired. Her last known communication was a brief, seemingly innocuous text message to her brother that same day, according to the official Facebook page devoted to her case.
Attempts to reach Smith by phone -- at numbers believed to be his and that of his parents -- and social media -- via Facebook e-mail, on a profile believed to be his -- for comment on Monday's developments and the case generally have thus far been unsuccessful.‬‪ ‬‪
He has refused authorities' offer to take a polygraph test in the case, Rooney told reporters.
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Parker's mother, Yvonne Stewart, said in Monday's news conference that the naming of Smith as a suspect is "huge." She urged him to come forward more earnestly, in hopes that his information will lead to her daughter.
"This is a sad day, really, but I think it was inevitable," Stewart said. "(Michelle is) so beautiful, she doesn't deserve this."
Rooney acknowledged that authorities recently searched Smith's parents' house, though he didn't "want to go into evidence that we seized or didn't seize."
Parker's black Hummer SUV was found a day after she was last seen, according to the Facebook page. She is described as white, 33 years old, roughly 5 feet 5 inches tall with short dark brown hair.
Her sister, Lauren Erickson, earlier told HLN's Nancy Grace that her sister and Smith met about five years ago. They were estranged, and "The People's Court" episode revolved around their dispute over who'd get a $5,000 engagement ring, with Judge Marilyn Milian eventually suggesting they split the proceeds and stay apart from one another.
Erickson said that her sister was devoted to her children, whom she, her mother and the rest of the family have not seen since Parker's disappearance.
"She would never do anything to leave them. They are her world," Erickson said. "They`re the reason that she was working two jobs and going to school full time -- so that she could give them a better life."
On Monday night, brother Dustin Erickson told HLN's Vinnie Politan that for all the talk about Smith, his main focus is on his sister. He and other family members urged people to continue distributing fliers, spreading the word about Parker and looking for her at every opportunity.
"My biggest thing is that I still need to search for my sister," Dustin Erickson said. "She is still missing and I still need to find her."