The words “Skinhead” tattooed on his throat and “White Power” inked on his bald head, Jeremy Moody – mentally ill with a dark past – believed God wanted him to eliminate all sex offenders, including the man he shot and stabbed to death in Union County last summer, his lawyer said in court Tuesday.
His wife, Christine Moody, endured a difficult upbringing marred by sexual abuse and emotional neglect – possibly prompting her to stab the victim and his wife repeatedly in their home, according to her court-appointed attorney.
Afflicted with a crop of mental illnesses that gave them what their lawyers and psychiatrists said were delusions of grandiosity, both Moodys pleaded guilty to shooting Charles Marvin “Butch” Parker, 59, and his wife, Gretchen Dawn Parker, 51, at their Jonesville home last July.
In the same Union County courtroom where Susan Smith was convicted of killing her children in 1995, the Moodys learned they would spend the rest of their lives in prison – apart – with no chance for parole.
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Circuit Court Judge Lee Alford handed down the sentence after taking issue with how the couple grinned, exchanged glances and occasionally snickered through most of the hearing. Before they were escorted out of the courtroom, the spouses shared a kiss.
“They’re in this together ... they acted in concert,” Alford said. “I would be concerned that they would do the exact same thing to somebody else ... because they didn’t like them.”
After court, 16th Circuit Solicitor Kevin Brackett praised Alford’s sentence, saying: “The Moodys have all eternity to be dead, but they can only suffer a lifetime of incarceration one time.”
Their lawyers beside them, the Moodys begged Alford for mercy and apologized for the slayings. But, as police led them to transport vehicles that would take Jeremy Moody, 31, straight to Columbia and Christine Moody to the Union County Detention Center until she could be taken to prison later this week, both Moodys said they had no regrets and that their lawyers coached them to seem remorseful.
“Killing that pedophile was the best day of my life,” Christine Moody, 37, told reporters. “I think Jeremy and I would’ve done it again given the opportunity.”
The Moodys were arrested last July after Union County authorities say they killed the Parkers after pretending their car broke down near the couple’s home and then later holding them at gunpoint.
In a rundown of the grisly murders, Brackett said the Moodys admitted to authorities they killed Charles Parker because he was a convicted sex offender. But “Gretchen Parker was not,” Brackett said, adding that the couple claims she died because of her “poor judgment” in marrying a sex offender.
Jeremy Moody confessed to deputies he shot the Parkers before his wife stabbed them. After they were arrested at his parent’s home in Lockhart, Jeremy Moody told investigators had he not been arrested, he would have kept killing.
Police found the name of Jeremy Moody’s next intended victim written on an envelope. Authorities also found a “manifesto” of manuscripts Jeremy Moody compiled that coalesced his “Aryan ... white supremacist” outlook on blacks, Jews and sex offenders, Brackett said.
Both Moodys have claimed affiliations with a white supremacist group operating in the Upstate called Crew 41. They have maintained that the Parkers’ deaths had nothing to do with the group – something authorities confirmed on Tuesday.
When Alford asked Christine Moody if she received any promises in return for pleading guilty – a standard question for judges to pose before accepting a guilty plea –she replied: “Just fame and fortune.”
Given the chance to speak in court, Christine Moody, a breast cancer survivor disabled in a car accident, recited Psalm 69:1-20 from the Bible. She apologized for breaking the sixth of the Ten Commandments – “Thou shall not kill.”
Jeremy Moody’s lawyer, 16th Circuit Public Defender Harry Dest, said his interactions with his client – whom he called “polite,” “respectful” and “candid” – had always been pleasant. He said members of Jeremy Moody’s family had been sexually abused by a grandfather for years.
Reading letters from pastors and relatives, Dest said Jeremy Moody was an avid churchgoer involved in vacation Bible school who “led three youths to be saved.” He wanted to preach to children and teens, but was tormented by his best friend’s suicide.
Since he was 17, Jeremy Moody suffered from several mental illnesses, including bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, which caused him to see hallucinations, hear voices in his head, develop paranoia and nurture a grandiose complex that placed him as “the right hand of God.”
Jeremy Moody told Alford if he had been on his medications, he would not have killed the Parkers. He asked to be given the chance to “grow old” with his wife.
“There’s more to Christine than what she’s been charged with and what she’s pleading to here today ... these things don’t happen in a vacuum,” said Christine Moody’s lawyer, Rock Hill attorney Derek Chiarenza, who listed sexual abuse, a car accident, an abusive first husband, a cancer diagnosis three months after marrying Jeremy Moody in 2009, post-traumatic stress disorder and mental illness preventing her from empathizing with others.
In conversations with her, Chiarenza said, Christine Moody was “lucid, intelligent and witty” and penned a 17-page biography. He suggested his defense of her would have included testimony that her husband, whom she met online, heavily influenced her actions. But, Christine Moody refused to lessen her culpability. In court, she said she and Jeremy Moody have a “fairy-tale love like nothing anyone’s ever experienced.”
Dest and Chiarenza asked Alford to sentence their clients to 30 years in prison – the minimum number of years defendants can serve for murder.
“They are gonna do it again” if they get 30 years, Brenda Franklin, Charles Parker’s sister, told Alford. “I think, if it’s OK with you, I’d like for them to have life in prison without parole.”
Melissa Cole, Gretchen Parker’s sister, called the Parkers “so-called people” and “animals” who “butchered” her sister and brother-in-law and then bragged about it.
“All I have left are memories and (taking) flowers to the grave,” she said. “It has brought a lot of pain, anguish, restless nights ... I ask you, just throw away the keys.”
As he was escorted to police vehicles by officers taking him to prison, Jeremy Moody said his sentence was unfair because “child molesters do not deserve to live.”
As he left court, he shouted to the Parkers relatives: “See you perverts later ... that’s what child molesters get.”
Outside of court, Christine Moody wished death on the Parkers’ grieving relatives, saying: “May they die also.”
After court, Dest said he could not address Jeremy Moody’s comments because he did not hear them, but said about his client: “There’s a severe mental illness there.”
The Parkers’ relatives said they felt justice was served and were relieved the Moodys could hurt no one else. There was no doubt in Tammy Jones’ mind that the Moodys would have tried to commit more executions if Charles Parker, her uncle, had not installed the security camera system that captured the Moodys on the slain couple’s property the day of the murders.
About the Moodys’ demeanor in court, both she and Melissa Cole admitted they “felt like ripping their throats out” and wanted to “choke them,” but added they hoped to be able to forgive them “in time.”
“I’m glad they will never see daylight,” Cole said.