On June 11, 1993, Andrea Parsons, 10, left her home in Port Salerno, Florida, for Bucky’s grocery store two blocks away to buy chips and candy. She never returned, and her body was never found. Now the 20-year-old mystery may finally be solved.
Last week, long after the headlines subsided and the Parsons case was featured on America’s Most Wanted, Florida authorities arrested Chester Duane Price, 42, and charged him with first-degree murder and kidnapping. Price, who moved to Alabama in the ensuing years, had his first hearing on Friday appearing via video monitor to face charges and hear the State’s evidence against him.
Martin County Detective Yesenia Carde told the court: “Chester confirmed that he did put her in the van… Andrea Parsons bit his hand trying to get out. He struck her and she became unresponsive. The following morning is when she was disposed of.” Price is being held in Martin County Jail without bail pending his trial.
And yet many questions remain — including the fate of Price’s alleged accomplice Claude Davis.
Davis has long been suspected of taking part in the crime against Parsons, but he is not being charged in the case — because prosecutors are powerless to do so. Davis told police at the time that he had seen Andrea Parsons abducted by four Hispanic men, but did not try to save her because he feared for his own safety.
Prosecutors didn’t believe Davis’ story and charged him with false imprisonment in the case. When they hadn’t tried him by 1994 he asserted his right to a speedy trial, and a judge dismissed the charges due to insufficient evidence. Double jeopardy attached — even though he has been implicated by Price, the fifth amendment protects him from being prosecuted twice for the same crime. “Regardless of whatever his involvement in the abduction and murder might be, he’s immune from prosecution,” railed Chief Assistant State Attorney Tom Bakkedahl, “Tell it to the Constitution.”
Davis was subsequently convicted on unrelated charges and served several years in prison before returning to live in Martin County. It is not yet clear how Price and Davis knew each other, or how authorities tracked Price down. The Palm Beach Post found that Price was once arrested in 2009 for assaulting Davis, but was not prosecuted.
With a suspect in custody, Parsons’ family can turn their sights to another lingering question: What happened to Andrea Parsons’ remains? Andrea’s mother Linda Parsons told a reporter “I’m just hoping he tells us where Andrea is. If he did do it, I want him to pay. I want to get him off the streets.” Back in 1993, authorities searched landfills and local bodies of water in the area, but even with cadaver dogs they came up empty.
After the arrest, local TV station WPTV spoke with an elementary school classmate of Andrea who spoke about the fear and confusion after the disappearance. “It was tough at school when that happened,” Brian Olsen recalled. “Everybody was sad, nobody knew what was going on. You know, the search went on forever!”
With Price behind bars, police believe they’ve answered the biggest question behind Andrea Parsons disappearance. But the search for her body continues.