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Bomb Suspect Burned Down House in 1990

Image: Richard Parker is charged in a fatal bombing
Richard Parker, 49, was charged Thursday with first-degree murder in the deaths of Jon and Marion Setzer, who died after a package exploded in their home in Lebanon, Tennessee. HANDOUT / Reuters

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A Tennessee man accused of killing his in-laws with a package bomb burned down a house he was supposed to be renovating more than 20 years ago, and the father-in-law he is now accused of killing helped to defend him.

Danny and Rosemary Martin said in a telephone interview that they contracted with Richard Parker to restore an 1830s cabin in Pulaski that was given to them by relatives when they decided to move to the country to raise their children. The work was supposed to be complete in June 1990, but it began to run well behind schedule and there were also problems with the quality of the work.

They confronted Parker about the problems on Tuesday, July 10, 1990, Rosemary Martin said.

"He said he would have it finished on Friday, and he burned it on Friday. He finished it."

Parker's defense team included his father-in-law, Jon Setzer, whom he is now accused of killing, the Martins said. The couple eventually agreed to accept $40,000 restitution and Parker was given four years of probation.

"In hindsight, we probably should have forgotten about that money and let him go to prison," Danny Martin said.

Rosemary Martin said Parker never apologized or showed any remorse for his actions.

Image: Aerial view of an explosion at a home in Lebanon, Tenn.
Aerial view of an explosion at a home in Lebanon, Tenn. Courtesy of WSMV

"We were trying to get an explanation, and he looked at my husband and he said, 'Oh, I thought y'all had a lot of insurance on that house," she said.

The Martins said they believe that Parker got in over his head financially on the project and thought that burning the house would solve his problems.

"To me, the only thing that guy is about is money," Rosemary Martin said.

Parker was arrested Thursday in the package bombing and charged with first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a prohibited weapon. He was being held at the Wilson County jail with bond set $1 million. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday and the court clerk's office did not know whether he had obtained an attorney.

Both Danny and Rosemary Martin said that they thought immediately of Parker when they heard on the news that 74-year-old Jon Setzer and his wife, 72-year-old Marion Setzer, had been killed by an exploding package at their home in Lebanon, about 40 minutes east of Nashville. Parker and his wife lived directly behind the Setzers. The explosion happened on Monday.

— The Associated Press