The suspect charged with the August murder of Elizabeth Archard was identified yesterday as an Anne Arundel County reserve deputy sheriff and volunteer fire-fighter who, according to police, may have used his sheriffs badge to get the 13-year-old girl into his car on August 28.
William Joseph Parker, 27, was arrested by Prince George's County police at 2 p.m. Thursday on a warrant for "false pretenses," - writing bad checks - issued for his arrest in Anne Arundel County.
Ten hours later, Parker was charged with the murder of Archard, 13, of 453 Waggoman Circ., Annapolis. The charges were placed after police questioned parker and compared him with a composite drawing they had prepared from witnesses' descriptions of the man last seen with Archard.
Archard was found shot five times in the neck after having been sexually assaulted in a heavily wooded area near Governor Bridge Road in Bowie on the night of Aug. 29.
Archard was last seen at about 1 p.m. on Aug. 28 less than a mile from her home. Witnesses said she was sitting on her bicycle talking to a man in a tan, early '70s model two-door car.
Archard was described by friends and relatives as an excellent student who was to have been the first violinist in the orchestra at Annapolis Junior High School where she would have been a ninth grader this fall.
Neighbors said at the time of Archard's disappearance that they could not imagine Archard getting into a car with a strange man. That is one of the reasons police are investigating the possibility that the suspect may have used his sherriff's badge to get Archard into his car.
According to Earl Johnson, president of the Arundel Volunteer Fire Company, Parker had been a member of his fire department until Aug. 8 when he was fired. Fire officials said he had been accused of writing bad checks to local businessmen.
Parker had been made a reserve deputy sherriff at the fire department's request on March 8 by the Anne Arundel County Sherriff's Department. Sherriff William R. Huggins said Parker was suspended from that job at the fire department's request on Sept. 1.
Parker was being held at the Prince George's County detention center in Upper Marlboro yesterday until a bond hearing Monday.
Jerry Griswold, chief of the Kentland Volunteer Fire Department, said yesterday that Parker had showed up at his station about 10 days ago, asking if he could work as a volunteer fireman.
"I remembered him because I had worked with him a few years ago in Bowie," Griswold said. "He's sort of a vagabond fireman. He's been going around for about eight years from fire station to fire station in the county and in Anne Arundel getting work."
Griswold said that Parker had worked in six different prince George's fire stations before going to Arundel last year.
Griswold said that Parker had worked in
"When I found out he had worked in Arundel I called Earl (Johnson) because I knew him from when he was chief here (Kentland) and he told me that the police were looking for him because of the checks."
Johnson said he asked Griswold to "hold onto" Parker for a few days and contacted Anne Arundel police. The Anne Arundel police than contacted Prince George's police.
Detectives arrested Parker on the bad check warrant Thursday and did not handcuff him when they took him out of the Kentland station, Griswold said.
"They just told him to bring his checkbook because they had some questions to ask him," he added.
Griswold and Johnson both said that as far as they knew parker has never held a full-time job. "Whenever he ran out of money he went to his mother and she bailed him out," Griswold said.
Parker's mother lives in Salisbury, Md., and he was known to frequent the Ocean City, Md., area. Johnson said that Parker had gone to Ocean City for several weeks after being fired from his job in the Arundel station.
After returning to the Anne Arundel area at the end of August, Johnson said he had lived out of his car for several days and then disappeared. "The next I heard he was in Kentland," Johnson said.
Elizabeth Archard was the third of five children. Her father, John Archard, who had worked for the federal government, died of a brain tumor in 1974 and her mother, Barbara, married Annapolis lawyer Philip Hale two years later.
The family lived in a two-story home called "Bedlam," in a neighborhood of one and two story $100,000 to $150,000 homes, about four miles from downtown Annapolis.