HICKORY, N.C. — A North Carolina couple remains the target of a nationwide manhunt nearly seven weeks after the wife is accused of fatally shooting a co-worker at the furniture plant where they worked.
Tangela Parker and her husband, Eric Parker, remain at large following the Jan. 13 killing of Phelifia Michelle Marlow, 51, of Hickory. Tangela Parker and Marlow were colleagues at TCS Designs.
Marlow was an upholsterer, according to her obituary.
Tangela Parker is wanted on a charge of first-degree murder, according to Hickory police officials. Eric Parker is accused of accessory after the fact for allegedly driving his wife away from the scene.
Police were called around 2:30 p.m. the day of the shooting to the nondescript TCS building, where they found Marlow suffering from gunshot wounds. She was rushed to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston Salem, where she later died.
“Tangela and Eric Parker were last seen leaving the business in a beige 2019 Honda CRV displaying North Carolina tag FAM5669,” authorities said in a news release. “They should be considered armed and dangerous.”
Phelifia Marlow’s husband, Justin Marlow, told the Hickory Daily Record that his wife and Tangela Parker got into a “very silly” argument the week before the shooting over moving some tables at the plant. The dispute resulted in Tangela Parker being reprimanded and sent home for three days.
Marlow and the couple’s 19-year-old daughter, Makayla Marlow, told the newspaper that Tangela Parker, who other co-workers described as “aggressive and argumentative,” bullied Phelifia Marlow. Makayla Marlow said she often could hear Parker yelling at people in the background when she spoke to her mother on the phone.
As days of searching turned into weeks, and the Parkers failed to return to their Alexander County home, local officials brought in the U.S. Marshals Service’s Fugitive Task Force.
The only sign of the couple has been Tangela Parker’s cellphone, which was found near an intersection in Colletsville, a small unincorporated area of Caldwell County, WSOC in Charlotte reported. Investigators spent part of the second week of February searching for the couple by air.
Andrew Wright, a longtime Colletsville resident, said it is odd that the phone was found in the tiny rural community.
“Trying to hide that good — as wanted as they are — you’d have to come out and get food somewhere,” Wright said.
The news station reported that police have said there has been no activity on the couple’s checking account or credit cards since they vanished.
Brian Alfano, a deputy commander with the U.S. marshals, told the Daily Record Feb. 13 that while the search has gone national, the fugitive couple could have remained close to home.
“I think there’s a good chance they’re somewhere in the mountain area — maybe even closer to the border between Tennessee or North Carolina side — but I think there is definitely a possibility that they are still in this area,” Alfano said.
The couple’s CRV also remains missing, the Daily Record reported.
Dave Faherty, a reporter with WSOC, spoke to Tangela Parker’s mother, who does not believe her daughter would fare well in remote Caldwell County.
“Tangela is not very good, as far as being outdoors,” the woman said. “The only outdoors stuff she did was being with her dog.
“I’d like to see her turn herself in. The worry is too much. I’m at a loss.”
Makayla Marlow described her mother as her “best friend, (her) rock and (her) support system.” She and her father said Phelifia Marlow, who is survived by another daughter and two grandchildren, was well-loved.
“This woman didn’t only hurt her family and friends,” Justin Marlow said of Tangela Parker. “She hurt a community.”
The U.S. Marshals Service is offering a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrests of Tangela and Eric Parker. Anyone with information on the whereabouts of the Parkers is asked to call the Hickory Police Department at 828-328-5551.
People can also leave tips at 877-WANTED-2 (926-8332) or usmarshals.gov/tips.