Charges dropped in alleged Vilonia looting case

A Faulkner County woman is cleared of all charges and can now literally start picking up the pieces of her life.
VILONIA, AR - A Faulkner County woman is cleared of all charges and can now literally start picking up the pieces of her life.

After last year's Vilonia tornado, Jennifer Parker tried to help her neighbors clean up, but her good deed turned into a nightmare.

Now free of felony theft charges, the Faulkner County Prosecutor says the information in the case was inaccurate and unfounded.

Parker says walking around her property just a few miles outside Vilonia surveying the tornado damage still lingering one year later is overwhelming. But she says she's lucky to be alive.
Her neighbor died in the storm. She tried to help by taking in his horse and recovering some of his personal items for his family.

"I just don't know what happened. It spiraled out of control so fast." Parker says her good deed did not go unpunished. This last year Parker has been fighting felony theft charges. Her neighbor's family accused her of stealing livestock and jewelry after the storm.

"There was nothing going on but a neighbor helping a neighbor."

Parker is now clear of all charges. According to the Faulkner County Prosecutor Cody Hiland, the information in the case wasn't solid. "At that point, as soon as that was realized, we made the decision to dismiss the charges."

But Parker says her nightmare isn't over. She now has to clean up what the storm destroyed on her own property, and she can't do it alone. She hopes the kindness she's been punished for this last year will not prevent others from now coming to her rescue in her time of need.

"If I knew you needed something, I would be there, absolutely. That's how people should be." Parker says she's grateful she can hold her head high again in the community, but she's not as trusting of people anymore. She's hoping to put a lot of the bad memories of the past year behind her now.

Given the same situation, Parker says she doesn't regret trying to help after the storm. She would do the same thing again, and she hopes others have that same spirit to come forward to help her clean up now.

"I'm glad we got it all straightened out. I hope people can be a little more understanding because it's not always what it looks like."

Parker says it's going to take years to get over the personal as well as property damage. "That's a scar that runs deep because when you're just as giving a person as you can be, I don't know what happened."
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