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Thursday, May 23, 2024 | Back issues
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Mother of Three Disappears in Florida

ORLANDO (CN) - Police are looking for a 33-year-old mother of three who went missing on Nov. 17 - the day she and her ex-fiancé appeared on "The People's Court," disputing the value of an engagement ring.

Michelle Parker broke up with her ex-fiancé, Dale Smith, 40.

The Florida Department of Children and Families filed a petition to keep Smith from getting custody of the toddlers because he would be a "significant future risk" to them, according to a DCF spokeswoman.

But Orange County Judge Thomas Turner on Wednesday dismissed the DCF petition and granted Smith custody of their twin 3-year-olds. The state's petition was "premature" and lacked probable cause, according to the judge.

Parker's third, older child is from another relationship.

On the TV show, Parker said Smith had a drug problem and had been violent with her.

"He's got a hot temper. He gets pretty malicious and vindictive, especially when he's drinking," Parker said on "The People's Court."

Parker had sought a restraining order against Smith but it was denied for lack of evidence, according to the Orlando Sentinel.

Orlando Police Chief Paul Rooney said that Smith is a suspect in Parker's disappearance.

Smith has refused to take a lie detector test but asked Texas Equusearch, a missing persons search and recovery group, to look for Parker, according to Smith's attorney, Mark NeJame.

Smith was the last person to see Parker, when she dropped off their twins for scheduled visitation at 3:13 p.m. on Nov. 17. He arrived at his parents house at about 4:30 p.m., NeJame said.

At a Tuesday news conference, NeJame said his client refused to take the lie detector test because such tests can be inaccurate. He added that it would have been impossible for someone to get their kids, kill a person, dispose of a body, and drive to their parents' house all in one hour and 12 minutes.

A search of Smith's home and his parents' home was done but nothing of interest was found, according to police.

Orlando police, Orange County Sherriff's Office and investigators continue to search for Parker, most recently around a lake in south Orlando close to where her cell phone signal was last transmitted.

NeJame previously represented Casey Anthony's parents, George and Cindy Anthony, and Tiger Woods.

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