‘They need our help:’ Nearly 30 years after daughter’s death, father continues work to find missing people

Father continues to work to find missing people
Foundation dedicated to finding missing people

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - It has been nearly 30 years since a 17-year-old high school student went missing. Her name was Catena Parker, she was an honors student at Richmond Community High School, taking classes at VCU, she had loving parents and a twin sister.

“My daughter went missing, one of the worst times in my life," explained D. McCoy Parker. "Sometimes the pain is fresh like it just happened."

September of 1990 is the last time family and friends saw Catena. The community was rattled by her disappearance. Parker says for months their family and friends searched, while police investigated.

“It’s unbelievable- unbelievable, it’s like you are in a daze and can’t wake up from it,” he said.

Nearly four months later, Catena’s body was found near the Science Museum, a heartbreaking blow for those who were determined to find her.

“We did find her but she was deceased--that gave us a small amount of closure, but her killer has never been found, so we still don’t know what happened," Parker said.

He says the family hasn’t given up, in fact they started a foundation in Catena’s honor, the Catena L. Parker Foundation for Missing Children.

The Catena L. Parker Foundation for Missing Children was founded by the Parker family in January 1991 as a result of Catena’s abduction and murder--The purpose of this foundation is to offer emotional support and assistance to families of missing children and to decrease the number of missing children through educating children and parents. The foundation sponsors a Support Group for Families and Friends of Missing Persons that meets on the second Tuesday each month. A Walk-A-Thon is sponsored annually for remembering Missing Persons.
Catena L. Parker Foundation for Missing Children.

The foundation holds a monthly support group that has made the difference in many lives, like Tonya Childs, whose nephew went missing in 2004.

“I remember at the time he wasn’t able to say my name all the way, I was always ‘Ton Ton’ at the time. He would look at you with those big beautiful eyes, he loved Spongebob," Childs explained.

When he was abducted, he was just four years old, and it was eventually discovered the toddler had been murdered.

“Sometimes you don’t know how to express yourself, I was angry, upset- a lot of different emotions going on at that time,” she said. “I started attending the meeting and I’ve never left.”

Childs has become an integral part of the organization, wanting to be a voice and support for other families. She says it’s what Parker has done for her and countless others.

“It’s support, it’s definitely support- even with all [Mr. Parker] has gone through, he’s still the most positive person I know,” she said.

The Catena L. Parker Foundation helps with child identification cards, searches for missing people and simply spreading the word when someone is missing.

Despite the pain and unanswered questions that still linger for their family, Parker says the answer to what motivates him is simple.

“Only God, it’s only God, believe me it’s only God," said Parker. “The mission is that Catena didn’t die in vain..”

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