MANGUM, Okla. – He had heard the rumors about them and even saw them together, but Jack Crowley never acted to change the trusty status of an inmate that might have altered the prisoner's relationship with the wife of Crowley's assistant warden.
The former Oklahoma State Reformatory warden testified last week at a preliminary hearing that ended with Bobbi Parker ordered to trial on a charge of aiding an escape.
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Parker, 46, is accused of helping the late Randolph Franklin Dial flee from the Granite, Okla., prison on Aug. 30, 1994. She will enter a formal plea Thursday in Greer County.
"One day I drove down 'The Line' — that's what we called the row of housing units where many of the higher-ranking prison staffers lived," Crowley said, recalling a summer day in 1994. "I noticed Bobbi Parker and Randolph Dial sitting on the front porch together drinking coffee.
"Looking back now, I remember how it struck me. I had just about determined it was time to move him. Then, the very next week, he escaped."
Parker, wife of then-deputy warden Randy Parker, drove a van from the prison grounds, with Dial crouched on the floorboard as they passed a guard tower. In April 2005, Parker and Dial were found living together on a chicken farm in the East Texas community of Campti.
Parker said Dial threatened to use his connections to harm her husband and two daughters if she ever left him or turned him in, but the judge didn't believe her and bound her over for trial. She has been reunited with her family.
Dial, who died in custody last year at age 62, pleaded guilty to escape and maintained until his death that he kidnapped Parker at knifepoint and forced her to drive him from the prison.
Crowley doesn't believe Dial, a convicted killer, kidnapped Bobbi Parker.
"No. 1, I knew Dial wasn't capable of kidnapping someone like that. Then there was the talk — you hear things — and what I saw. So it all came together. I really never had any other opinion."
Crowley approved a "security override" in July 1994 that placed Dial in minimum security. Despite his first-degree murder conviction, Dial maneuvered himself into a comfortable prison lifestyle thanks to his talents as a painter and sculptor.
Crowley had allowed Dial to create an inmate-operated pottery industry, which was designed to make money for the prison and rehabilitate inmates. He named Bobbi Parker as the project's "sponsor," and permitted Dial to produce his first works out of a makeshift shop in Parker's garage.
Crowley testified that he monitored the project's progress through regular conversations with Randy Parker, but he now regrets not having more direct contact with Bobbi Parker.