1 year later, murder investigation still active

New evidence seen in Barbara Parchem's murder  

Barbara Parchem
Barbara Parchem

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. – Saturday marks the first anniversary of Barbara Parchem's disappearance.  A few weeks after the popular St. Johns County waitress vanished, her remains were found in a wooded area in northern Flagler County and the medical examiner ruled her death a homicide. But Parchem's killer still has not been brought to justice. 

Investigators told Channel 4 Friday night that the investigation into Parchem's murder is still an active investigation. Detectives are still processing evidence they told Channel 4 they believe points to Parchem's daughter, Lilly Chavez, as a person of interest.

After a year of trying to determine how Parchem died, and how her remains wound up in a remote wooded area in Flagler County, detectives with the  St. Johns County Sheriff's Office told Channel 4 they are slowly getting closer to making an arrest.

Detective Jeremy Russell said although tips have dried up, they are still gathering evidence and have new evidence that they are processing.

"Evidence is still coming back from labs," Russell said. "We continue to work on the evidence in this case. There is a substantial amount that we have that points to her [Chavez], but we want to make sure that in getting justice for Barbara, we put our best foot forward, and that's why it's taken time to present the best case we can."

Russell said because the investigation is still active he wouldn't release details about the new evidence. 

Last May, investigators arrested Chavez and charged her with possession of a firearm, after seizing items from her home. That arrest is not connected to Parchem's murder.

However, an affidavit from the case reveals that Chavez and Parchem were riding together in the 67-year-old's car the day before she was reported missing. Investigators also said after reviewing Chavez's cellphone records, it appears the two traveled in areas other than where Chavez said they traveled. 

The affidavit says that when officers investigated Parchem's vehicle after her disappearance, there was debris and fresh scratches on it. The vehicle also tested positive for the presence of blood.

"They are still looking for something in which to convict Lilly Chavez, when they really should be looking for the real killer," said Chavez's attorney, Thomas Cushman.

Cushman told Channel 4 that 44-year-old Chavez has suffered greatly just by being labeled a person of interest. Cushman said deputies are unfairly focusing on Chavez, especially when there's not enough evidence to make an arrest.

"She says people treat her like she has been convicted of harming her mother, which she would never do," said Cushman.

Cushman also told Channel 4 that Chavez hasn't been able to get a job as a result of people's perceptions in the community.

Detectives are still asking people to come forward if they have information and call St. Johns County Crimestoppers at 888-277-TIPS.