A Crawfordsville man will likely serve the rest of his life in prison after he was found guilty Friday of the 2020 murder and gruesome beheading of his wife.
Michael D. Parks, 46, of Crawfordsville, withdrew his original plea of not guilty Friday in Montgomery Circuit Court for the Aug. 18, 2020 murder of Hope Parks. His representation, Chief Public Defender Bryan Donaldson, then entered a plea of guilty on his behalf as part of a negotiated plea agreement.
Though mitigating factors were presented, aggravating factors including the premeditation, mutilation and disposal of his wife’s body on a public roadway, among others, were sufficient for Judge Harry Siamis to accept the plea and proceed with sentencing, finding Parks guilty and granting the requested 50-year sentence. The charge of Count I-Murder, a level 1 felony, carries a minimum sentence of 45 years and a maximum of 65.
The 50-year sentence will be served in its entirety, less 625 days already served in the Montgomery County Jail. Parks will be 94 years old when released from the Indiana Department of Corrections.
Entering a plea of guilty prior to the scheduled May 9 jury trial meant Parks waived his rights to a trial by jury and any subsequent appeal processes during incarceration. He will not be eligible for parole. Asked if he understood his rights and subsequent sentencing, Parks answered “yes.”
Parks replied “yes” and “no” to questions from Siamis and Montgomery County Prosecutor Joseph Buser during the hearing. He indicated he understood his rights, had no history of mental illness or drug abuse, and confirmed under oath the manner in which he murdered his wife at their South Elm Street home in August 2020. He made no other statements.
Testimony from Crawfordsville Police detectives Lt. Jared Templeman and Lt. David Long, and a probable cause affidavit filed Aug. 24, 2020 by Long in Circuit Court, affirm Parks premeditated the murder. Parks researched “bottle silencers,” and if they work, before shooting his wife in the back of the head with a .22-caliber rifle in the kitchen of their home at 1011 S. Elm St. following an argument.
According to the testimonials and affidavit, Parks then decapitated his wife head using a miter saw before burying the severed head in a hole dug in the basement floor of the residence. He then used a tarp to transport the victim’s body to a bridge over Sugar Creek on North C.R. 225W where he left it slumped over the railing.
The body and severed head were examined by Dr. Roland Kohr at Terre Haute Regional Hospital on Aug. 21, 2020, where the manner of death was determined to be homicide. Montgomery County law enforcement and a representative from the Montgomery County Coroner’s Office were present for the examination.
The body was positively identified as Hope Parks via fingerprint scans. The head was later confirmed to belong to Ms. Parks through dental records and photographs resulting in a positive identification from family members.
Police first received reports Aug. 20, 2020 of a woman’s headless body found on a bridge two miles west of Crawfordsville. The same day, Parks traveled to the Crawfordsville Police Station to report his wife missing, saying he had not seen her since Aug. 18, 2020 following an argument. Parks initially reported, the affidavit shows, that his wife had left with an unknown figure in a white car.
Parks allowed law enforcement to search the residence for clues as to her whereabouts. Instead, they found evidence of dried blood in various locations, drag marks, a bloody footprint, a bloody shoe and a spent .22-caliber shell casing. The cause of death was determined by Dr. Kohr to be a gunshot wound to the head from a small caliber weapon prior to dismemberment.
“Additional hair and plastic bags containing blood covered rags were recovered from deeper within the hole in the cellar floor that was the site where the severed head was found buried,” the affidavit reads, citing subsequent executed search warrants for the residence.
Parks was then detained as a suspect for his wife’s murder. Four days later, Aug. 24, 2020, Parks requested an interview with Lt. Long, admitting to the murder. Asked Friday in court if he was guilty of murder, Parks said yes.
Though Parks was a high school graduate, was employed and had no history of mental illness or drug abuse — all mitigating factors in the case — he had a prior conviction of domestic battery against Hope Parks in Illinois nearly 20 years earlier. Records indicate Parks had seen multiple charges of domestic battery dropped in years since.
Parks was removed from the courtroom following sentencing before he was transported to the Montgomery County Jail where he awaits transport to a Department of Corrections facility.
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