LORAIN, OH (WEWS) — A former Cleveland police officer is charged with stealing $217,000 in a case that Lorain police say is connected to the murder of two women 10 days later.
A judge set Tyra Parker’s bond at $150,000 after the 24-year-old was charged with aggravated theft, tampering with evidence and obstructing official business.
Parker was arrested by US Marshals at her home in Euclid.
Lorain police said Parker, who worked as an ATM delivery driver, reported money missing from a lockbox inside her van on Feb. 3.
However, investigators said her story quickly fell apart.
“There was no forced entry into the lockbox,” said Lorain Police Detective Kurt Graupmann, “she claims the vehicle was locked, there was no forced entry into the van. She was not approached. She was not robbed. The money seemed to have vanished.”
Graupmann said police have not recovered the cash.
The president of Cleveland’s police union said Parker resigned last year after she was placed on restricted duty by the department.
The city has not released records detailing the allegations that led to Parker being placed on restricted duty.
Her defense attorney said his client plans to fight the charges against her.
“Most definitely, she’s innocent until proven guilty,” said attorney Antonio Nicholson, “And we plan on contesting it.”
Lorain police said they quickly linked the theft to the murders ten days later of 28-year old Abril Mills and her childhood friend Jerhonda Edwards.
Police said the two women were shot and killed inside Mills’ F Street home in what police believe was a home invasion.
“It was within a matter of hours that evidence came forward and we were able to link the two crimes,” said Graupmann.
Police won’t say what that evidence is but said the two women were not suspects in the theft.
Graupmann believes several people were involved in the two crimes and are asking anyone with information to call the police.
“It’s quite ruthless that these two young ladies, both single mothers, were killed in this fashion,” said Graupmann. “It’s particularly heinous.”
When asked if Parker had anything to do with the murders, her attorney said he didn’t have anything to say about it.
“That’s not to my knowledge,” said Nicholson, “So I don’t have anything to say about that.”
Across the street from Mills’ home, a piece of crime scene tape is still tied to a signpost, a reminder of what happened there.
“Every time I walk out of the house and look over there, it’s sad,” said Matthew Liebenguth.
He said his daughter would play with Mills’ 7-year-old son who was not home when his mother was killed.
Now, he hopes police catch the killer or killers that left a young boy without a mother.
“I want justice for the boy himself,” said Liebenguth. “Whoever did this, the boy has to get justice.”
This story was originally published by Scott Noll on WEWS in Cleveland, Ohio.