33-year-old Michelle Parker lived in Orlando, Florida, with her 3-year-old twin sons whom she shared custody of with her ex-fiancé, then 40-year-old Dale Smith Jr., and her 11-year-old son from a previous relationship.
Michelle and Dale began dating in 2006 but by 2009, they were embroiled in a bitter custody battle. In 2011, Dale took Michelle to The People’s Court, a reality courtroom show, and sued her for the cost of a $5,000 engagement ring that was lost after she angrily threw at him during an argument.
Michelle stated in court that Dale was physically abusive and had a drinking problem, “He gets pretty malicious and vindictive and he’s a mean person, especially when he’s been drinking. He shouldn’t have put his hands on me, and he shouldn’t have put his hands on me prior. He shouldn’t have left me three or four times over the past year and a half that we’ve been together.”
The pre-taped episode aired on November 17, 2011. A few hours later, Michelle disappeared and hasn’t been seen or heard from since.
According to authorities, Michelle had coffee with her boyfriend, Nathan Mitchell, before visiting her mother at her hair salon. At 3:18 pm, CCTV footage captured Michelle pulling into Dale’s condo to drop the twins off for a scheduled visit. She told a friend she planned to go home and take a nap before an 8 pm shift at The Barn in Sanford, a restaurant where she worked as a bartender.
But Michelle never made it to work, let alone home. She was reported missing at 7:20 pm after several unanswered calls and texts from family members.
According to authorities, Michelle’s black 2007 Hummer H3 was found abandoned at The Mall at Millenia the very next day; a decal for her mobile tanning business “Glow” had been scraped off the back window. Michelle’s iPhone 4 was later found submerged in Lake Conway.
A former marine stationed in Beaufort, South Carolina, Dale divorced his first wife in 1999, marrying his second in 2000. Less than a few months later, he was convicted of criminal domestic battery after he assaulted his second wife. He was dishonourably discharged and moved to Florida where he met Michelle. At the time of her disappearance, she had a restraining order against Dale.
He later received full custody of the twins, now 13, and moved to Tennessee. Michelle’s older son, now 21, moved in with his biological father. Authorities named Dale the prime person of interest in the case a decade ago, but no related criminal charges have been filed against him. Others believe Michelle may have been the victim of a random carjacking.
This month marks the ten-year anniversary of Michelle’s disappearance. A $5,000 reward is available for any information leading to her whereabouts. Michelle was last seen wearing blue jeans, a long-sleeved Florida Gators zip-up hoodie and a silver cross necklace. If alive, she would be 43-years-old. Tips can be submitted anonymously by calling Crimeline at 1–800–423–8477.