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Couple Wanted In Slaying Of Wife's Colleague Captured After Traveling Across The Country

Tangela and Eric Parker were taken into custody in Phoenix this week in connection with the fatal workplace shooting of Phelifa Michelle Marlow after fleeing North Carolina in January.

By Dorian Geiger
Tangela Eric Parker

A North Carolina couple who evaded authorities for months as they were sought in the slaying of their colleague at a furniture plant was living under fake names when they were apprehended on Tuesday in Arizona, officials said.

Tangela Parker, 50, and Eric Parker, 61, were taken into custody in Phoenix this week in connection with the fatal workplace shooting of Phelifa Michelle Marlow. They’d been on the run since January.

The couple, who’d assumed the names John and Elizabeth Reardon, was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service around 12:30 p.m. on July 13.

“Today marks six months since the tragic murder of Phelifia Marlow,” said Chris Edge, Acting U.S. Marshal for the Western District of North Carolina said in a statement. “I hope on this day, Phelifia’s family may find closure in knowing the Parkers have been apprehended and will finally answer for their crimes against a beloved North Carolinian.”

On Jan. 13, Tangela Parker allegedly shot and killed Marlow at TCS Designs, a furniture plant where they worked together in Hickory, North Carolina. The shooting occurred days after a workplace dispute, according to investigators. Eric Parker is accused of being an accessory in the murder of his wife’s co-worker.

Federal authorities worked dozens of leads in at least eight states before discovering the couple was possibly living in Phoenix. 

Following the shooting, the Parkers vanished, according to officials, and stopped using their cell phones and accessing their bank accounts. Authorities initially suspected the couple, who they said was armed and dangerous, may have been hiding out in North Carolina’s Smoky Mountains.

To crisscross the country undetected the couple worked a stint at a ranch and panhandled for gas and food; they also rented a room on Craigslist, authorities said.

“They were just doing what they could to survive and they really were trying to build another life for themselves far away under an alias to live out the rest of their lives and hopefully never get caught,” U.S. Marshal Deputy Commander Brian Alfano told Oxygen.com.

To further cover their tracks, the Parkers allegedly stole vehicle license plates, which they swapped onto their Honda CRV, investigators said. Once they arrived in Phoenix, the couple reportedly lived in their SUV for about 11 days before scrounging up enough cash to rent a bedroom. Their vehicle was recovered from the Phoenix property where the Parkers were arrested.  

“They absolutely were resilient and they definitely had an end-goal in mind,” Alfano added. “That end-goal was to create a new identity and to create a new life — and to do whatever it took to not spend the rest of their life behind bars.” 

Alfano said a handgun was also seized from the Phoenix property. It’s currently being analyzed by forensic experts to determine whether the firearm is the murder weapon Tangela Parker allegedly used to kill Marlow.

Authorities are also working to actively identify whether additional individuals aided and abetted the Parkers on their journey to Arizona. 

Marlow worked as a furniture upholsterer, according to her online obituary. In March, Marlow's loved ones gathered at her grave for a memorial celebrating what would’ve been her 52nd birthday. The family described her as a caring wife, mother, and grandmother. 

“She thought about others more than she thought about herself,” her husband, Justin Marlow, told the Hickory Record. 

Tangela and Eric Parker are currently in custody in Maricopa County. They’re expected to be extradited back to North Carolina to face murder charges in Marlow’s death, according to the Catawba County District Attorney’s Office.

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