May 9, 2014

Mother of SC man who killed sex offender: ‘He said yes, he killed them people’

The mother of Jeremy Moody, who was sentenced to life in prison this week after he pleaded guilty to killing a Union County sex offender and his wife, discusses her son’s actions and his struggles with mental illness.

The message in Jeremy Moody’s head was clear and, according to him, came from the Most High: “Kill those people.”

The message from his mother, Tammy Moody, was her attempt to keep him stable as he sat behind bars charged with two counts of murder, claiming that the shots he fired were met with God’s approval.

“I said, ‘Jeremy, God don’t tell you to hurt one another ... to kill one another out of hate,’” she told The Herald on Thursday.

Her message came too late. Charles Marvin Parker, 59, and Gretchen Dawn Parker, 51, were dead – shot and stabbed in their Union County home on a Sunday in July. Police surrounded Tammy Moody’s Lockhart home, demanding to see her son and his wife, Christine Moody. Officers took the couple into custody, searched their rooms and confiscated Tammy Moody’s pistol.

She would later learn that the gun she and her 73-year-old husband used for protection had been used to kill the Parkers. Her son and daughter-in-law, she said, asked to borrow the gun to go target shooting.

From jail, Jeremy Moody, 31, told his mother: “Mama, He (God) told me to do it,” Tammy Moody said. “He said yes, he killed them people. I want to send condolences to the family that they’ve brought grief to. I know that they’re hurting...”

On Tuesday, Jeremy Moody – a “White Power” tattoo on his bald head and “Skinhead” emblazoned on his throat – and Christine Moody were sentenced to life in prison after each pleaded guilty to two counts of murder, kidnapping, burglary, criminal conspiracy and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

After listening to grisly details of the crime and observing the couple grin, snicker and glance at each other for two hours, Circuit Court Judge Lee Alford handed down the life sentences, saying he felt they had no remorse and would likely kill again.

After court, the Moodys said they had no regrets.

“See you perverts later,” Jeremy Moody shouted to the Parkers’ relatives. “That’s what child molesters get.”

“Killing that pedophile was the best day of my life,” Christine Moody, 37, told reporters before adding about the Parkers’ families, “may they die, also.”

In July, the Moodys pretended that their car had broken down near the Parkers’ Union County home. They said they targeted the Parkers because Charles Parker was a registered sex offender, and they killed Gretchen Parker because of her “poor judgment” in marrying him.

Jeremy Moody confessed to deputies that he shot the Parkers before his wife stabbed them. Had he not been arrested, Moody told investigators, 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, authorities said.

That manifesto was a compilation of research Jeremy Moody had collected over the years, his mother said, as he wrote his own book, “Yesterday, Tomorrow and Forever.” While he did take excerpts from white supremacist writings, much of his “studying” and “digging” focused on child molestation and its frequency in the United States.

Moody himself had never been a victim of sexual abuse, his mother said, but “Jeremy knew of molestation and rape that had happened to people in the family. He knew that Christine ... had been raped and molested by (family members) from the age of 2.”

Both Christine Moody and her attorney stated as much in court on Tuesday.

“It’s not a race issue. ...,” Tammy Moody said. “Jeremy had many black friends. Jeremy is easygoing, soft-spoken; he’d do anything to help anybody, it didn’t matter what color they were.”

Tammy Moody said her son did not start sporting tattoos of swastikas and nooses until he went “up north” and met the mother of his first daughter, who Tammy Moody says was part of a neo-Nazi “gang.” Despite prosecutors’ depictions of Jeremy Moody as a “cold-hearted monster,” she said, he preached sermons to the youth and elderly and “just wants to stay in his Bible.”

Before Tuesday’s hearing, Moody told his mother he asked God to forgive him.

“The goal was to save his life,” said 16th Circuit Public Defender Harry Dest, Moody’s lawyer. Prosecutors could have sought the death penalty in the case, but opted not to as a result of plea negotiations.

“From a defense perspective, our main goal was to try to avoid the death penalty,” Dest said. “We were in the position we wanted to be in court based on circumstances of the case.”

In court, Moody told Judge Alford that if he had been on his medications, he would not have committed murder. Tammy Moody agrees, saying her son, with no job or insurance, could not afford his properly prescribed medications.

“When Jeremy was going without his medicine, he would tell me, ‘Mama, I’m getting suicidal; I’m having homicidal thoughts because I haven’t had my medicine,’ ” she said.

Moody said she told her son not to listen to those voices. Those behaviors stem from her son’s years-long struggle with bipolar disorder and schizophrenia, she said.

“It’s not unusual to see this kind of behavior; fortunately it’s very rare,” said Dr. Harold Morgan, the psychiatrist who evaluated Jeremy Moody. He told Jeremy Moody that it’s uncommon for the mentally ill to “act out in this type of way.”

Morgan told Alford that if Jeremy Moody were to continue taking his psychotropic drugs, his illness would stabilize and control his behavior.

“Severe mental illness coupled with a history of sexual abuse in his family,” Dest said, “doesn’t justify in any way, shape or form what happened but it does help explain how this tragic incident occurred.”

Christine Moody also suffers from multiple mental illnesses, her attorney said in court Tuesday, including borderline personality disorder.

Lawyers on Tuesday said Jeremy and Christine Moody first met online in 2009, shortly after Jeremy Moody’s best friend killed himself. Tammy Moody called her daughter-in-law a godsend.

“Somebody finally put a smile on his face, put a joy in his step,” she said.

In court on Tuesday, Tammy Moody said, the couple smiled and stared at each other because they were excited to see each other after being apart for 10 months.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover until you know the book,” she said. “Again, I’m sorry that he and Christine have destroyed a lot of people’s lives. Don’t blame Jeremy and Christine for being mentally ill.”

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