It’s 1955 and Nancy Parker was brutally attacked, beaten, bound and murdered in her Lincoln, Nebraska home. Her husband, Darrel Parker, found her dead body in their bed when he came home at noon. Eventually, Darrel Parker would be arrested, convicted of his wife’s murder and serve prison time. He would later be released, remarry and start a new career in Moline, Ill. There’s just one hitch, the question of whether or not Darrel Parker was guilty of murdering his wife.
The Book Barbarous Souls written by David Strauss has just been released. The book takes you through the murder, Darrel’s arrest and conviction and things that did not add up. From a coerced confession to missing evidence to a dead criminal’s confession of Nancy’s murder. The story of Darrel Parker begs for a good ending. What does Darrel Parker want? He wants his name cleared.
The murder of Nancy Parker
Darrel and Nancy Parker married and moved to Lincoln, Nebraska for his job as a city forester. They lived in a basement apartment until a house ( part of his job) was moved in. A month or so after they moved into the house, they returned home to find that it had been broken in to. A security fence was built.
On December 14th, 1955 Nancy Parker was attacked while making out Christmas cards. She was found dead in their bed by Darrel when he came home at noon. She was bound, beaten, raped and strangled.
The coercion, arrest and conviction of Darrel Parker
While visiting with in-laws after Nancy’s funeral in Des Moines, Iowa, a call from the prosecutors about the case drew Darrel back to Lincoln. Thinking he was going to be helping the prosecutors, Darrel found he was the main suspect. A man named John Reid, pioneer of the Reid Technique of interrogation, had been called in to question Darrel. Whenever Darrel looked down, Reid grabbed him by the hair or chin. He wouldn’t let Darrel eat or sleep. Eventually, Darrel confessed.
The next day, Darrel Parker withdrew his confession saying that he had been coerced by Reid. He was arrested for his wife’s murder, tried and found guilty. His lawyers drew attention to an earlier man of suspicion who was an ex-convict and had worked on the security fence at Parker’s home. Darrel Parker went to prison for 13 years. He was a model prisoner and slept in a bunk in an unlocked greenhouse.
Did Wesley Peery murder Nancy Parker?
A federal appeals court reversed Parker’s conviction in 1969. They said his confession was involuntary. The U.S. Supreme Court reversed them and in 1970, the state paroled Darrel Parker. Five years later, Marianne Mitzner was bound and killed by the same man who helped build the security fence around the Parker home.
Wesley Peery ended up on death row for the murder of Marianne Mitzner. He confessed to his two lawyers that he had killed a dozen people. He said Nancy Parker was one of them. Then he held them to secrecy until he died. Peery died of a heart attack in 1988.
Darrel Parker has been given a pardon. A pardon means you’ve been forgiven for a crime. Darrel Parker wants a declaration of innocence. He is 79 years old now and the book Barbarous Souls has stirred up the case and his emotions of years of torment. Barbarous Souls, begs for a good ending.
Go here to read about the case written in 1989. Go here to read about the book Barbarous Souls.