NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — 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.
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.
"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.
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.
"I told my wife on Tuesday that Richard Parker had killed the Setzers," Danny Martin said.
Parker, who lived directly behind the Setzers, was arrested Thursday and charged with first-degree murder and unlawful possession of a prohibited weapon.
State Fire Marshal's Office spokeswoman Katelyn Abernathy said she did not have any information about a possible motive for the Monday bombing.
Danny Martin thinks that he knows.
"I guarantee you this is going to come down to being about money," he said.
According to records, Parker ran a business called Legacy Restorations that specialized in historic restorations. He held a license for that business beginning in Nov. 1994, about a year after the arson case was settled, but several other restoration contractors in the area said on Friday that they have never heard of Parker or his company. The company's website does not list any specific projects that Parker has completed.
The license was placed on an inactive status in December. Abernathy said it is common for contractors to place their licenses into retirement whenever they are not performing work requiring a license.
Parker was being held at the Wilson County jail on $1 million bond. He is scheduled to be arraigned on Tuesday and the court clerk's office did not know whether he had obtained an attorney.
Reached by phone the day before his arrest, Parker declined to talk about the deaths of his in-laws with The Associated Press. Attempts to reach his wife, Laura Parker, were unsuccessful.
Sheila Burke contributed to this report.