Man charged in two killings is Sparta police chief's son

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

SPARTA, Ill. -- Police Chief Alan Young was the first officer to arrive at the video store here where clerk Randa Clarkson was found shot to death in December.

Now, the chief's own stepson, Ryan Parker, has been charged in that crime and another, similar execution-style shooting weeks later.

Parker, 24, was charged with first-degree murder on Monday in Randolph and Madison counties, and prosecutors in both jurisdictions say they will seek the death penalty. He was being held at the St. Charles (Mo.) County Jail on $1 million bond, awaiting extradition to Illinois.

Illinois prosecutors' offices and courts were closed in observance of Abraham Lincoln's birthday Tuesday, and it was not immediately clear whether Parker had been transferred or where he would be tried first.

Prosecutors said the former National Guard member and part-time Okawville police officer shot Clarkson, 39, to death on Dec. 18, and then killed Granite City florist Edward Kirby, 48, on Jan. 5.

Both victims were shot during robberies that netted the thief less than $100, prosecutors said.

Police said they arrested Parker after he used Kirby's gasoline credit card at a gas station in St. Peters, Mo., 30 miles northwest of St. Louis in St. Charles County.

Young, who raised Parker from the time he was 4, said he and his wife were "saddened" and surprised by the arrest. If the allegations are true, "I just hope that someday somebody tells me why," he said.

Parker worked as a part-time police officer in Okawville in Washington County for a few months last fall.

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