CROWN POINT | More than six years after Merrillville business owner John Parker was killed outside his vacuum cleaner franchise, his wife, Judy Parker, 39, was sentenced Thursday to 33 years in prison for conspiracy to commit murder.
Authorities ultimately determined John Parker's slaying April 17, 2003, had been staged as a random robbery and murder by an unknown assailant. Family members said they had immediately suspected Judy Parker behind the plot.
Judy Parker pleaded guilty to charges July 23.
Authorities said Parker wanted out of her marriage so badly she discussed various schemes to kill Parker with her two teenage children, one of whom she gave money to hire a killer. When that failed, Parker gave the teens money to buy a pistol and followed up by buying dark clothes and a mask, which her 15-year-old son wore while shooting his stepfather in the back of the head.
At the time the conspiracy began, the family, which included two younger daughters, lived together in the upscale Ellendale Farms subdivision in Crown Point. The couple had met through Parker's business selling Kirby vacuum cleaners.
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During Thursday's sentencing, John Parker Sr., the victim's father, testified his son was an honest, hardworking man. The elder Parker, who is raising the couple's youngest daughter, told the court he has forgiven Judy Parker "because it is the Christian thing to do."
Lake County Deputy Prosecutor John Burke called the murder "shocking and outrageous," telling the court Judy Parker stole $7,500 from the family business to hire a killer. Parker's eldest daughter lured the victim from The Patio Restaurant to his business, where he was shot execution-style, Burke said.
John Parker's stepchildren face sentencing in September.
Daniel Hicks, now 21, faces a maximum prison term of 25 years for conspiracy to commit murder when sentenced Sept. 14. Christina Hicks-Grabski, now 23, faces a maximum eight years in prison for assisting a criminal when sentenced Sept. 17.