Feb 15, 2014

Richard Parker letter bomb

Richard Parker letter bomb. A 49-year-old man accused of planting a letter bomb which killed his in-laws in Tennessee has been charged with first-degree murder.

Police said Richard Parker left the bomb outside Marion and Jon Setzer’s home in rural Lebanon on Monday.

Jon Setzer, 74, allegedly picked up the package from his mailbox. As he opened it, the box exploded, blowing out windows and critically injuring his 72-year-old wife. Marion Setzer died in hospital on Wednesday.

State Fire Marshal’s Office spokeswoman Katelyn Abernathy said Richard Parker was arrested Thursday, but did not have any information about a possible motive for the bombing.

Reached by phone the day before his arrest, Parker declined to talk about the deaths with The Associated Press.

Parker ran Legacy Restorations, a business that specialises in historic restorations, according to its website. His house was just behind the Setzers’ in a semirural area of Lebanon.

Parker was convicted of arson in 1993 in Giles County and sentenced to four months of probation, according to records.

Jon Setzer was an attorney who handled wills and trusts, but he had been in very ill health in recent years. Friends said he was on dialysis and had heart problems and high blood pressure, among other health issues.

Marion Setzer had formerly worked as a dental hygienist.

“We are just dazed by what happened,” Nashville attorney John Stark said. “Jon was one of the good guys. He was a good lawyer. He taught Sunday school.”

Stark, who said he’s known the Setzers for more than 30 years and attended church with them, described the former lawyer as a quiet and humble man.

Authorities have declined to describe the package or give a possible motive for what happened.

John Lloyd, a retired dentist, said he has known the family for years, first when Marion Setzer worked for him as a hygienist in Nashville and later when they attended church together in Lebanon.

“They were two of the finest people I ever knew, good Christian people who loved their children,” Lloyd said.

Lloyd said Marion Setzer stopped working for him when she became pregnant with the couple’s son, Jon Leo Setzer Jr. The child died at age three when he was mauled by a neighbour’s German shepherd in 1977.

The story was front-page news at the time as officials debated whether to have the dog put down.

Bob Taylor, who lived about a block from the Setzers for many years, said they were “nice folks” and good neighbours.

Jon Setzer volunteered to do the legal work to set up their local homeowners association. Taylor said he and his young children all helped search for the Setzers’ little boy when he went missing. Taylor and his wife had not heard from the Setzers for a few years before they learned about the explosion on television.

“My wife was home by herself,” he said. “It just knocked her for a loop. We have no idea, no clue, not even guesses as to who might be involved. He was just a gentle man. We were just stunned by the whole thing.”