Real Name: Wade Mitchell Parker
Aliases: Ronald Anderson, Larry Wheeler, Mark Mitchell
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: October 1991
Details: Wade Mitchell Parker is wanted for taking money from twenty-eight families from whom he had promised to build log cabins near Steamboat Springs, Colorado. Earl and Donna Chotvacs were two of his victims; they had planned to have a log cabin built for their family to live in. For years, they had saved thousands of dollars to put in to the cabin. In April of 1991, they answered a newspaper ad about a log home company. They spoke to Parker, who was then going by the name "Mark Mitchell". He told them that they would invest $25,000 in his business. In return, he would give them a large discount on the construction of their log cabin. Also, the investment would be returned to them, with interest.
In May, an architect and a salesman from Mitchell's office came to inspect the Chotvac's property. After their attorney approved the contract, the Chotvacs would hand over their $25,000 deposit to Mitchell's salesman. The log yard at Mitchell's Denver headquarters appeared to be legitimate. Workers processed hundreds of logs, and the shells of cabins were carefully pre-assembled. When an area was ready, the shells would be dis-assembled, trucked to the area, and re-assembled on a concrete foundation.
However, after eight weeks, there was still not progress at the Chotvacs property. The critical job of measuring and pouring the foundation had yet to begin. The couple made the four-hour drive to Mitchell's log yard to find out what was wrong. However, he convinced them that nothing was wrong. He showed them the shell of their future log cabin. Earl checked the measurements and they appeared to be accurate. Mitchell insisted that the construction at their property would start soon.
However, several more weeks passed and there was still no construction done. The Chotvacs called Mitchell several times and convinced him to dispatch a work crew. Measurements were finally done and they were hoping that it would be done by the following Spring. The couple applied to their local bank for a construction loan. On October 1, they learned that their request had been denied. The banker told them that the loan was denied because their builder, Mark Mitchell, was in serious financial trouble. They learned that he had been taking deposits from other families and never started construction on their homes. They also learned that his real name was Wade Mitchell Parker.
At that point, the Chotvacs realized that they were going to lose all of their money. On October 5, they went back to "Mitchell's" headquarters in Denver. He showed up more than two hours late. He agreed to refund the couple's deposit. Claiming to be short of cash, he gave them a promissory note. The couple never saw Parker again.
Within a month, Parker declared bankruptcy and vanished with his clients' money. The Chotvacs never received any money; they soon learned that they were not the only ones to be scammed by Parker. In November of 1991, the Chotvacs met more than thirty of Parker's other victims at a meeting organized by Colorado authorities. Parker is believed to have taken over a million dollars from people in his scams.
After meeting with the other victims, the Chotvacs did not feel as bad about being so easily duped, as so many others had fallen for Parker's schemes. They, along with the other victims, hope that he can be arrested.
Investigators have been unable to find any of his victims' money and are convinced that he still has it with him.
Extra Notes: This segment originally ran on the November 3, 1993 episode.
Results: Captured. After three years on the run, Parker was arrested in Cobb County, Georgia on August 11, 1994, while using the aliases "Ronald Anderson" and "Larry Wheeler". With the help of the broadcast, Georgia investigators were able to determine his true identity. On September 26, he was arraigned in Colorado on fraud and theft charges. The Chotvacs attended his hearings, happy to see him finally get caught. However, after posting his own bail, he vanished again, failing to reappear for his hearing.
In April of 2011, an investigator received a tip about Parker's whereabouts. On May 4, he was arrested in Norfolk, Virginia, under the assumed name "George Davenport". He was extradited to Colorado where he finally faced trial for his fraud and theft charges. He was convicted on the charges. He was released from prison in 2015.
Sadly, Donna Chotvacs passed away from breast cancer in 2011.
- Wade Mitchell Parker at Unsolved.com
- (Article on Parker's 2011 Arrest) Bail-bond bill would shackle public’s justice
- Donna Chotvacs Obituary