Michelle Parker's mother hopes wrongful-death suit will bring answers



ORLANDO, Fla. - 9 Investigates is looking into a new development in the case of missing mother Michelle Parker and how the only suspect could be exploiting her disappearance.

Parker disappeared more than two years ago after dropping her twins off at the Orlando apartment of her ex-fiancé, Dale Smith.

Police named Smith, the girls' father, as the only suspect but never brought charges against him.

On Wednesday, Channel 9's Kathi Belich learned Smith is now using the case in an effort to get out of a lawsuit filed by Parker's mother, Yvonne Stewart.

Stewart said she wants to know what happened to her daughter, which is why she filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against Smith.

She told Channel 9 she misses her daughter terribly and continues to fight for visitations with her grandchildren.

"They're my baby's babies," Stewart said. "I just can't ignore that they exist or that they don't matter.  They matter. She matters."

Parker disappeared in November 2011 after taking the 3-year-old twins to Smith's home.  The disappearance happened hours after the couple appeared on an episode of "The Peoples' Court."

Smith is the prime suspect and is using that and the tragic fact that Parker's body has not been found to fight Stewart's wrongful death suit, arguing the judge should throw it out because there's no evidence Parker is dead.

"Whatever tactic they want to take legally, I'm just looking for the truth," said Stewart. "I want to know where my daughter is, and I want to know what happened to her."

If the lawsuit stands, Smith wants it put on hold until the criminal investigation is over so he won't have to choose between possibly incriminating himself and taking heat for pleading the Fifth Amendment.

"This is an appallingly brilliant strategy," said WFTV legal analyst Bill Sheaffer.

Sheaffer doesn't think Smith's strategy will work, but he expects the judge to allow Smith not to answer some questions.

"He has to tell the truth. Everyone needs to know what really happened that day," said Stewart.

There's a court hearing on the issues in two weeks.