The accused killer and former girlfriend of a gay East Point police officer waived her first court appearance on Wednesday as friends and supporters remembered the fallen officer and launched a fund to help offset funeral expenses.
Danielle Parker waived her first appearance hearing in a Fulton County court on Wednesday, but is scheduled to return on July 29. She was arrested Tuesday and charged with murder. Police say she shot Crystal Parker in the head and killed her after their five-year relationship recently ended. Danielle Parker lived in Crystal Parker's house until about a month ago and that's where a family friend found her body Sunday evening.
On Tuesday, police released Parker's cause of death and hours later, the multi-agency Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force arrested Danielle Parker (second photo) in the south Fulton home she shared with her mother.
Fulton County police, the lead investigators in the case, would not detail the relationship between the two women during a press conference late Tuesday, despite the couple sharing a last name. Family members said they didn't know Danielle Parker very well. (Watch video bleow.)
Police told WSB Radio that the suspect moved out of Parker's home about one month ago. Laster said the suspect changed her last name to Parker.
"We have not determined if it was the breakup of a couple, but she was determined to be an ex-roommate," Laster said.
The victim’s father, Joseph Parker, said the family knows the suspect, but “not very well.”
But as additional details trickled out late Tuesday, media outlets slowly moved from calling the women "roommates" to saying they dated. Sources also confirmed to Project Q Atlanta that the women were in a romantic relationship.
According to a family friends, Danielle and Crystal dated for about five years but recently went their separate ways. The couple lived together in the Creel Road home where Crystal's body was discovered.
Parker, a six-year veteran of the East Point Police Department, was honored in 2012 as the agency's officer of the year. Police supervisors said Parker was ready to be promoted. Friends say Parker's dedication to serving and protecting on the job carried over into her personal life.
"She served not just our mainstream community, but she was in the LGBT community," said Amber Moore, president of the Alpha Chapter of Sigma Omega Phi Fraternity, a social group for masculine-identified lesbians.
"She was very liked in the LGBT community, she was a member of the LGBT community. She was involved. I want people to understand that she was gay and I don't think people are grasping that concept. She was a servant in all communities," Moore added.
Crystal Parker, known as Chris by friends, joined the fraternity in 2008 and mentored other members and helped establish a scholarship program so prospective pledges could earn their GED. Atlanta Pride honored the fraternity as one of its grand marshals last year, a distinction that Moore said was due to much of Parker's past work.
"A lot of the stuff that we got honored for, she paved the way for us to be able to do," Moore said.
Parker's death -- police say she might have been killed three days before she was discovered -- has shocked Moore and other members of the fraternity.
"I am still kind of in the fog about it. It is a tragedy, a horrible situation. She was a very nice person, well respected not just in her job but as a person. As a mentor, she was awesome," she said.
Charlotte Cagle, an East Point resident, told the GA Voice that Parker was adored in the Atlanta suburb.
"She was/is truly adored by her fellow officers," Cagle said of Cpl. Parker.
"She was a nice person not because she had to be, it's just who she was. She made a huge impression on those around her," Cagle added.
"Only 32, she rose through the ranks, and her fellow officers truly considered her more than a co-worker. They were friends. The work she did was well respected, and they shared a lot of laughs over the many hours they were all together. It is such a senseless killing," Cagle added.
On Tuesday, Atlanta blogger Nathan Strange launched an online effort to raise $1,000 to offset funeral expenses for Parker. By Wednesday, the fund had collected $830 in donations. Services have not been announced.
I've created a fundraiser in memory of Cpl. Parker, and am working to raise money to accomplish three things: a floral wreath at her funeral from the citizens of East Point, a donation to a charity of the family's choice in her name, and a catered meal for the men and women on duty on the day of her funeral. They are going to have a long, difficult day and I think that will be a way to show our support that will touch them individually.
Moore said people should know that Parker would lend a helping hand to anyone.
"She has helped people. She is a servant. That was her thing. She served and protected us and it didn't just mean just East Point. If she knew you, knew of you, she served and protected you," Moore said.