NEW BOSTON, Texas (KTAL/KMSS) – Wade Griffin‘s mother says there were red flags early on in the relationship between her son and Taylor Parker, the woman on trial for capital murder and kidnapping in the death of 21-year-old Reagan Simmons Hancock and her unborn baby.
Connie Griffin testified Monday that she tried to talk to her son about the possibility that Taylor might not be pregnant.
“But he didn’t want to listen,” Connie Griffin said.
“This whole thing has been a nightmare,” First Assistant District Attorney Kelley Crisp said, prompting Griffin to respond, “It’s ruined my life.”
Connie Griffin says Wade seemed to believe Taylor was pregnant, even though he did ask her if Taylor was not showing as much because she had a “tummy tuck.” She says she told her son that was not the reason.
“‘Cause he doesn’t know about pregnancy, I tried to talk to him, but he was convinced. I think when he would go to work, his boss would really come down on him really hard if he questioned and made him feel pretty foolish.”
Connie says she thought Taylor was very personable when she first met her on the day she brought a casserole to her house because she knew she worked long hours and cared for her elderly parents. The whole family was growing to love her, and at first, she thought Taylor was someone Wade would enjoy being with.
“She just kind of drew you in,” Wade’s mother said on the stand.
But as time went on, Connie recalls that Taylor and Wade did not seem to be on the same page.
“She seemed to want a close relationship. I could not tell if he wanted that or was standing back. There were some red flags. One was that she didn’t have custody of her son.”
And then there were all the issues with Taylor not being able to access her money. Connie Griffin says the talk of royalties, oil, etc. “started pretty early on.” Taylor told them her grandfather had some oil wells, and she was to inherit millions at some point.
In reality, those wells only generate a few hundred dollars a month, and Parker’s grandfather was no millionaire. But Connie Griffin would not learn that until after Parker’s arrest.
Over nearly three hours of testimony, Connie recalled how Taylor quickly moved into Wade’s life, managing his finances and his home. There was the multi-million-dollar Pecan Point deal that had Wade over the moon with pride, excitement, and dollar signs in his eyes. The couple excitedly announced the news at the big family Christmas get-together by passing around a card with pecans stuck on it to the fellow avid duck hunters in the family, telling them they would never have to worry about finding a hunting lease again.
It was such a big moment, Connie got video of it on her cell phone. The jurors watched it in court and heard Taylor detailing the terms of the deal she said they’d made with the doctor who owned it, claiming he had agreed to the sale only if they promised to use the property to its fullest potential. She told Wade’s relatives she had formed an LLC and had already changed the name to Pecan Bend. There were hugs of congratulations.
The Pecan Point deal dragged on for months before it ultimately fell apart. Connie says it was not until she learned that the car Taylor “bought” for her as a surprise was never paid for that she realized something wasn’t right.
Connie was shocked but excited about the metallic gray Nissan Altima Platinum at first. It was the exact color, make, and model she had been looking for. But she only had it a few weeks before Taylor called Wade and told him to have her bring it over to his place immediately and leave it in the driveway because there had been a recall on the brake pedal. The dealership was going to pick it up.
“In my mind, I’m thinking dealerships don’t come to your home and pick up a vehicle on a recall. It just doesn’t happen.”
But she got in the car and headed over.
“I’m telling you, we’ll never see this car again,” Connie recalled saying to her husband on the way. “‘He said, ‘You don’t know that.’ I said, ‘Yeah I know it. I do know that. Dealerships don’t pick up vehicles on a recall. It just didn’t make any sense.'”
Two to three weeks later, after nobody had contacted Connie about the car, she reached out to the dealership. They told her the money never came through for it.
“That’s when I realized there was something seriously wrong,” Connie testified.
Taylor had also promised to build Wade’s father a whole new barn to replace one that had previously burned to the ground. That never materialized because, as jurors heard last week, Parker was not a millionaire heiress. She did not have the money for Pecan Point, the car for Connie, or any of the other high-ticket items the couple bought, including a custom side-by-side, a new truck for Wade, and about 20 head of cattle Wade picked up at a special sale in Sulphur Springs. His mother says he expected to have room for them on the ranch they were buying and figured he could afford it.
When the Pecan Point deal fell through, Taylor blamed her mother for locking her out of the family funds and orchestrating issues with the banks and wire transfers.
Griffin was testifying about trouble that arose when she got caught in the middle of one of Taylor’s lies over who was paying Wade’s bills when one of the jurors fell ill and had to be assisted out of the courtroom. After a brief break, Judge John Tidwell recessed the trial until Tuesday morning. If the juror is still sick, an alternate will take their place.
Earlier in the morning, jurors heard from Cody Ott, a former co-worker and friend who also says he tried to tell Wade something wasn’t right about Taylor’s pregnancy. Ott and his wife went on double dates with Wade and Taylor. They hunted together and were close friends. Ott says he believed Taylor was pregnant at first, and that she really had all that money. But when checks Wade was writing didn’t go through for the car Parker bought for his mother or his big new truck, and especially when Wade started talking about quitting his job at the roofing company, Ott tried to say something.
Ott believes Wade must have taken at least some of those questions home because Wade started getting threatening emails from “Mandy Body,” a shadow email account Wade was led to believe was Taylor’s mother, Shona. Prosecutors say Taylor fabricated “Mandy Body” to feed Wade information that seemed to back her claims and create a common enemy in Shona that served to unite them as a couple. The emails offered all the answers Wade needed to dismiss the warnings from his friend.
“He was buying it,” Ott said. “She was good, for sure. She was a good manipulator.”
It all came to a head in mid-April, less than a month after the gender reveal party the Otts hosted for the couple in spite of their growing suspicions. Ott says they finally reached out to too many people, family members, and exes. And even though they were not the only ones by that point who had expressed doubts and concerns, Wade was still taking Taylor’s word for it.
Ott says the couple distanced themselves after that and the friendship is still strained to this day.
A former co-worker at the Northeast Texas Women’s Health Clinic in Mount Pleasant, where Parker had previously been a patient also took the stand Monday morning. Suzie Ramirez testified that Parker showed up not long after announcing her pregnancy. She wanted a copy of her medical records, telling Ramirez she had a mass in her abdomen that had a heartbeat and her doctor wanted to do a biopsy to determine whether it was viable.
Ramirez testified that she knew that was impossible. But she says she did not question her and instead just listened to her story. Ramirez said Parker was particularly interested in an ultrasound image from her last pregnancy in 2013 and explained her daughter needed it for a school project. The clinic did not have a copy of that sonogram, however.
Ramirez says clinic staff continued to monitor Parker’s ongoing social media, where she shared updates about the baby she had already named “Clancy Gaile,” pre-natal check-ups, and health scares. Parker blocked everyone who questioned her pregnancy on social media, except for Ramirez, who found a way to save screenshots of her Snapchat messages without the app alerting the original poster as it is designed to do.
Ramirez believes that’s why she was the only one from the clinic to be invited to the gender reveal party, but she did not go because she did not want to give the appearance of validating Parker’s pregnancy claim. She was especially glad she didn’t go after she found out Parker had been dropping her name in her stories about pre-natal checkups that never happened.
Ramirez says Parker knew no one at the clinic would be able to out her because of patient privacy laws. Not even to Wade Griffin, who believed he was the father of Parker’s baby and who called the clinic more than once looking for information. With the COVID pandemic just emerging at the time, patients could not bring anyone with them into the clinic.
Instead, the clinic warned the hospital. Still, Ramirez says she and others at the clinic thought it was more likely to end the way they had seen other fake pregnancies end: with a fake miscarriage.