by John E. Dannenberg
Tipped off by a viewer of America's Most Wanted, Shelby County, Texas police on April 4, 2005 took into custody Randolph Dial, 60, a murderer who escaped from the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite, Oklahoma on August 30, 1994. And in a bizarre twist, he was found living with the wife of then Deputy Warden Randy Parker, Bobbi Parker, 42, who disappeared with their red minivan the same day after leaving a note that she was going grocery shopping. Living deep in the woods near the Louisiana border, the two were raising chickens.
The night of Bobbi's disappearance, her mother received a phone call later traced to Hurst, Texas where Bobbi reportedly said, while crying, I can't talk now. I'm OK. Tell the kids I'll see them soon." A day later, she called from Forth Worth, telling a friend, I've got 30 seconds to talk. I want you call home. Tell the kids I love them and I'll be home soon." She was never heard from again.
Dial had been accorded minimum custody trusty" status, working outside the walls. He had been convicted in 1981 of killing a karate instructor. A well known sculptor and painter with a master's degree in art, Dial ran a prisoner pottery program with Bobbi. The morning of her disappearance, Randy saw his wife working with Dial in his garage. Randy considered him personable," yet an absolute coward." He was always trying to run a con on people.
The living relationship of Bobbi and Dial was allegedly forced. He abducted her at knifepoint and held her in the constant fear that her family would be hurt if she tried to run. When Bobbi was found, the Texas authorities described her as traumatized" and terrified." She was unable to cooperate with police because she feared Dial had mob" connections and that her family was still in jeopardy. The informant to America's Most Wanted was likewise made fearful, but obviously not fearful enough to not turn Dial in. Dial, who attended a local Pentecostal church, had a loaded pistol on the table and a loaded shotgun by the door of the mobile home near Campti, Texas where he was arrested, while Bobbi was in another part of the county tending their 125,000 chickens. They were living under the assumed names of Richard and Samantha Deahl. FBI agents said Bobbi appeared healthy and unharmed. She asked about her husband and two daughters. But once she knew Dial was back in custody, she was tearfully reunited with her family.
In a post-arrest interview, Dial told reporters that he always expected he would be caught. I hoped I'd be luckier, see them coming. But I didn't." In one statement, he said his eleven years on the lam were wonderful," living in Houston [where he worked as a security guard], Crockett and Nacogdoches. But later, he said his time out of prison wasn't really freedom, because he was always hiding. I was doing time. I never went anywhere. It was just the same as being in prison, except that I had a big yard." That was tempered by I was a hostage-taker and will probably live to regret it," Dial told reporters. But now I don't. Doing a life sentence, at my age, I wouldn't trade it for the past 10 1/2 years.
But he did have one adventure. In 1998, he boldly traveled to Oklahoma City to attend a book signing of At Large, a nonfiction book about his own life, escape and mysterious disappearance. There, Dial bought a copy and had it signed by author (and former Tulsa homicide detective) Kent Shaffer. After driving back to Texas and reading the book, Dial phoned Shaffer to tell him he got it right." Although Shaffer notified the FBI, the call was never traced.
Dial has been charged with escape and after firing his court appointed attorneys was scheduled to stand trial in December, 2005. Police have not charged Parker with any crimes but continue to investigate whether she willingly helped Dial elude capture. The fact that over 11 years Parker never attempted to escape, alert police or otherwise leave Dial, despite frequently being separated from him, has troubled police investigators. Dial has not been charged with kidnapping which indicates prosecutors may not be able to prove such a charge.
Bobbi has since been reunited with her husband. Randy Parker is now the warden of the William S. Key Correctional Center in Fort Supply, Oklahoma.
Sources: Dallas News, Houston Chronicle, Associated Press, The Oklahoman.
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