Michael Lapaglia killed Jack Parkes and spent money on drugs


Carol Lapaglia made the worst phone call of her life on a Monday afternoon.

“I just got home from work and my husband, he’s on the floor,” Carol shouted to a 911 dispatcher in Allegheny County, Pennsylvania on July 21, 2014. “He’s, he’s, he’s dead. There’s a big pool of blood.”

Her boyfriend of more than two decades, Jack Parkes, 59, lay dead on the living room floor of the Kennedy Township home, six weeks before their planned wedding.

At 3:00 p.m., the only way to help Parkes or Carol was to find out who killed him.

“When I got to the scene, the first thing I noticed was that the victim’s head was covered in blood,” Allegheny Police Det. Laurie McKeel said. “An Unexpected Killer” aeration Fridays at 8/7c to Oxygen. “It was on closer examination that you could tell it was a gunshot wound.”

Although there was no sign of a struggle in the room with the victim’s body, the rest of the house was a mess: there were drawers pulled out and their contents scattered, the mattress was crooked on the bed and empty jewelry and watch boxes were thrown here and there. And, more importantly, although the back door and garage door were apparently open – which was unusual for the couple – the front door had been secured with a normally unused deadbolt when Carol arrived home. . Police determined that Parkes let his killer into the house, indicating that he likely knew and trusted whoever murdered him.

The first person they spoke to was Carol, Parkes’ fiancée and girlfriend of 25 years. Carol, who was almost too upset to speak, told police she left for work at 5:40 a.m. but received a late morning phone call from an estate agent the couple worked with for sell the house of Parkes’ late mother. The real estate agent was unable to reach Parkes, despite the fact that he was recently retired and spent most of his days around the house. Then Carol couldn’t reach him either.

The more time passed, the more worried she became – and, finally, she had left work early to go see him.

Carol told police that most of the couple’s jewelry, including Parkes’ expensive watches, the couple’s rings for their impending nuptials and Parkes’ coin collection were all stolen.

Her employer confirmed she was there before leaving shortly after 2:00 p.m., and the autopsy showed Parkes had been shot in the right back of the head with a .380 caliber handgun mid-morning. . Carol was ruled out as a suspect; she then told the cops they should investigate Parkes’ nephew, Bradley Johnson.

Johnson lived across the street from the couple and was not a fan of Carol. He had gone to see Parkes the morning of his death, knowing that Carol would not be there to discuss the couple’s desire to sell Parkes’ mother’s house.

“In her words, ‘I didn’t want her to put in her two cents,'” McKeel told ‘An Unexpected Killer.’

It turned out that Johnson thought Carol was being too bossy and wanted to discuss the Parkes-man-to-Parkes-man homestead. Jack Parkes, however, would not make any decisions without Carol’s input. Johnson, who had arrived around 10:30 a.m., left empty-handed around 11:15 a.m.

He owned a .380 caliber pistol, but police determined the ballistics did not match.

Next is another nephew with whom the couple had been close: Carol Lapaglia’s nephew, Michael Lapaglia. During questioning, Michael – who had been discharged from the US Army for using synthetic marijuana – admitted he had a fight a year ago with the aunt and uncle who helped him to raise it. But he and his girlfriend, Melanie, said they spent the day together running errands in nearby Sharpsburg.

His alibi, which included credit card transactions in Sharpsburg and an appointment with the local veterans medical center to seek treatment for his PTSD, was verified.

The police had only one other line of inquiry to pursue: the missing jewelry and coins.

On August 4, 2014, a Pittsburgh police officer who specializes in pawnshop records and was assisting Allegheny police called and told them she had located the stolen jewelry from a store in town. This pawn shop had surveillance cameras and they had video of the person who tried to sell the jewelry: Michael Lapaglia.

Allegheny police demanded to get Michael’s phone records to verify his alibi, then called Michael and his girlfriend, Melanie, for questioning. He denied everything, and she denied giving him a false alibi. She even claimed the jewelry he saw in the sales video was hers, not Parkes and Carol Lapaglia’s.

When police retrieved Michael’s records from the phone company, they verified much of his original alibi – except that at around 11:45 a.m. his phone rang in the area of ​​his aunt’s house. and his uncle.

According to Carol, it was around 11:45 a.m. that she first tried to reach Parkes and failed.

When confronted with the cellphone recordings, Michael confessed…sort of. First, according to court records, he claimed to have waited in the car while a drug dealer he called “Stink” broke into the house and shot Parkes. But, after a break in the bathroom, he told the police something closer to the truth.

“I had PTSD and on the morning of July 21, I asked Mel to take a ride with me,” he told police in a taped confession. “She just got off with me and I parked her car. I told her to wait. She never got out of the car, she had no idea where we were going.”

He claimed he had been accused of stealing jewelry the previous year, so he wanted to visit and make amends.

“I knocked on the door to apologize and talk,” he said. “At that moment, he became hostile and he choked me and swung me… He had two hands around my neck. At that moment, I felt that my life was threatened. And I had a pistol, .380, on me, and here we go.”

He said he then panicked, took the jewelry and left.

Michael’s story was not consistent with the condition of Jack Parkes’ body, which showed he had been shot in the right side near the ear and had no defensive injuries to his hands . And, given that the entire two-story house was completely ransacked after the murder, the police didn’t think he was panicking either. Instead, they believed he had come specifically to rob the couple.

Although it was Michael Lapaglia who unsuccessfully attempted to pawn his aunt and uncle’s jewelry in Sharpsburg shortly after the murder, he eventually obtained $1,000 from the Pittsburgh pawnbroker for the jewelry, of which he spent $600-700 on heroin.

According to court records, Michael was suspected of stealing jewelry from Carol at a family party on Labor Day weekend in 2013. His mother told Carol he also stole jewelry from her. . Neither woman ever reported him to the police, but it made him unwanted in Carol’s house after that.

In June 2014, Michael had started working as a teller at a local bank, according to court records, but was fired around July 4, 2014 – two weeks before the murder – after more than $2,700 was found missing from his cash drawer less than a month. He was also not prosecuted in this case.

On August 5, 2014, Michael Lapaglia was charged with murder and robbery in the death of Jack Parkes. He was found guilty on both counts at trial in June 2015, according to Pittsburgh CBS affiliate KDKA, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for the murder, plus 10 to 20 additional years for the flight on September 9, 2015.

Carol Lapaglia gave a victim impact statement during her nephew’s sentencing, according to KDKA.

“When I came home from work that day and found Jack, I never would have imagined in a million years that it would be my nephew, Michael, who would have taken his life,” he said. she declared. “How could this same child we loved so much do such a horrible thing to his uncle? I struggle with this question every day.

Michael Lapaglia is currently incarcerated at Mercer State Correctional Institution, about an hour north of Pittsburgh.

For more on this case and others like it, watch “An Unexpected Killer,” airing Fridays at 8/7c to Oxygenor stream episodes here.


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