She had plenty of takers — but her behavior at their homes struck the customers as bizarre. She kept taking selfies with all of the babies, according to the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department. She kept wiping off her fingerprints from everything she touched.
And then there was the cupcake.
During a photo shoot on Feb. 5, Parker and her 16-year-old daughter offered the treat as a gift to a new mom, claiming they ran a bakery together, Pierce County Detective Ed Troyer told The Washington Post. The woman ate it — and before long she started to feel seriously ill.
The unnamed woman ordered Parker and the 16-year-old girl to immediately leave, and then she called 911 for help.
After Parker left, the woman accused her of covertly stealing her house keys.
Now, police say they know why: It was allegedly all part of Parker’s plot to steal the woman’s baby, flee the state and raise the child as her own.
Parker, a onetime mayoral candidate in Colorado Springs, was arrested Friday along with her 16-year-old daughter at their home in Spanaway, Wash., and charged with attempted kidnapping and assault. The mother and daughter are accused of soliciting photography customers as a way to go “baby-shopping” in their homes before drugging the chosen victim to put the kidnapping plot in motion, according to the sheriff’s department.
Troyer told The Post on Monday night that, since the arrest, the sheriff’s department has been contacted by at least a dozen women who say Parker came to their homes in recent weeks to take pictures of their babies while exhibiting the same behavior. An attorney for Parker or for her 16-year-old daughter could not be immediately located.
“On social media, anybody can look like a professional photographer or pretend to be anyone they want to be. But if it’s too good to be true, it is,” Troyer said. “It’s crazy that it’s gotten to the point of baby-stealing now.”
Parker previously worked as a marketer for a plumbing business in Colorado Springs, where she also advocated for tiny houses to help homeless veterans, the Colorado Springs Gazette reported. She ran for mayor in 2019 but came in a distant second place behind the incumbent, with roughly 12 percent of the vote. In a Ballotpedia survey, Parker described herself as being “honest, caring, respectful” with a “good moral code & compass” and common sense.
“I have traveled all over and experienced so many things that have taught me the importance of being able to seeing things from someone else’s shoes and to be a good person,” she wrote.
Once back in Washington after losing the race, Parker told the mothers on Facebook that she was offering her photography services free because she just wanted to beef up her portfolio, the sheriff’s department said. Troyer said she wanted a baby girl under 5 weeks old — and picked customers accordingly.
Victoria Morris was one of them. Morris was still pregnant with her baby girl when she connected with Parker on Facebook and invited her over for the free pregnancy photo shoot, she told KOMO News on Monday. Parker used her sleeve to open the front door, Morris said, and when she came inside, she insisted on sitting on the floor.
“She seemed off, but not like something that was alarming that I would have sent her away,” Morris told KOMO News.
In cases when Parker was photographing newborns, Troyer said the selfies Parker took with the babies were also part of the kidnapping plot. Sometimes she offered to come back to take more pictures several days later — and continued with the selfies, he said.
“That way, when she shows up somewhere else, she’s got a bunch of pictures of her with the same baby,” Troyer said. “She’s establishing a timeline: ‘Here’s me and the baby a week ago. Here we are two weeks ago.’ We believe that’s the reason.”
No other moms reported being offered a cupcake or any other treats, which has led authorities to believe that the tainted cupcake was reserved for the baby Parker had chosen to kidnap, Troyer said.
It was Parker’s third time visiting the mother who was given the cupcake, according to the sheriff’s department. The mother started vomiting, feeling numb and drowsy and unstable on her feet, according to police. She decided to file a police report after telling doctors she believed she had been drugged.
Troyer said Parker’s 16-year-old daughter is the one who presented the new mother with the cupcake, and a toxicology report is still pending to determine what substance caused the woman’s illness. Troyer also declined to discuss the evidence linking the 16-year-old girl to her mother’s alleged plot.
The pair was arrested after deputies served several search warrants, the sheriff’s department said.
Morris told KOMO News that she gave birth to a newborn girl on the same day of Parker’s arrest. She had even sent Parker a text message to share the big news, asking whether she would come back out to take more pictures.
Instead, she awoke the next morning to see Parker all over the news, horrified to realize how close she had been to becoming a victim.
“I broke down,” Morris told the news station. “I just started crying and panicking. I looked out my hospital window and I could see the jail where she was being held.”
Parker is expected to be arraigned in Pierce County on Tuesday afternoon, while her daughter’s case will be handled in juvenile court. Parker is out on a $50,000 bond.