Warden’s wife charged in inmate escape case

Warden Wife
Randolph Franklin Dial, who died last year in prison, is shown in a Greer County courtroom in Mangum, Okla., in 2005. The deputy prison warden's wife who disappeared with him in 1994 has been charged with helping him escape.Sue Ogrocki / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

A deputy prison warden's wife who disappeared with a convicted murderer in 1994 and spent a decade on the run with him has been charged with helping him escape.

Three years after Bobbi Parker and Randolph Dial were found, a prosecutor said Tuesday he had charged Parker with assisting in Dial's escape from the Oklahoma State Reformatory in Granite. Now 45, she could face up to 10 years in prison if convicted.

Dial died in prison at age 62 last year. After his 2005 capture, he said he kidnapped Parker at knifepoint and forced her to live with him all those years. But a court affidavit alleges that the two were romantically involved prior to the escape, and that Parker helped Dial escape by hiding him in her car.

At the time of Dial's escape, Parker left behind her husband, Randy, who was deputy warden at the Granite prison at the time, and two daughters, then ages 8 and 10. She was reunited with them after she was found in April 2005 in east Texas, where she and Dial had been raising chickens.

'Waiting to see what happens'
Randy Parker, now a Department of Corrections official working in McAlester, told The Associated Press by telephone Tuesday that he and his wife are "waiting to see what happens next." Parker said he didn't know if his wife would be allowed to surrender to authorities or would be taken into custody.

Dial was serving a life sentence for the 1981 slaying of a karate instructor when he escaped. A sculptor and painter with a master's degree in art, he had obtained trusty status at the Oklahoma State Reformatory, meaning he could stay in minimum security housing outside the prison walls.

He ran an inmate pottery program with Bobbi Parker, used a kiln in the Parkers' garage and had access to their home during the day.

Charles Sasser, a former police detective who wrote a book about Dial, said the fugitive called him a few years before his capture, and even put Bobbi Parker on the phone.

"At one point in the conversation, I asked her if she was doing OK, and she said, 'Yes, I'm fine. I'm happy,'" Sasser said Monday.

"I asked her if she should talk to her children, and she said, 'No, maybe it's better that they think I'm dead.'"

Prosecution delay could aid Parker
University of Oklahoma criminal law professor Randall Coyne said Dial's death and the long delay in prosecuting the case could work to Parker's benefit.

"She could argue that her due process rights are harmed because the prosecutor sat on the charges for so long," Coyne said. "She could argue documents or witnesses helpful to her may have disappeared."

Jackson County District Attorney John Wampler said there were several reasons that more than three years passed before a decision on charging Bobbi Parker was reached. The charge was filed Friday.

"The only thing I would say is initially, we were concentrated on the charges against Mr. Dial himself," he said by telephone. Dial pleaded no contest to escape in December 2006 and was sentenced to seven years in prison.