New York has been hit recently by a number of chilling crimes. One is the discovery of Nicole Flanagan, who was discovered inside a 55-gallon drum. One of those charged is Aquellio Parker, 29. While there was no sign of injury to Flanagan, the Bergen county prosecutors are awaiting further test results. However, I was struck by the charges brought against Parker whose mugshot could be seen as a reaction to the redundancy of criminal charges today. He is facing much greater potential problems however in this curious case.
According to media reports, Flanagan was a mother of three who reportedly worked as an escort and was listed as either 42 or 44 years of age. Security tapes show Flanagan arriving at a high-rise apartment building in lower Manhattan. Parker reportedly texted her “95 Wall Street” around 1:46 a.m. on Aug. 6. He added “Lmn when your (sic) approaching so I can grab you from the lobby, babe.” She was met by Parker when she got out of a ride-share and the affidavit states: “Additional surveillance video revealed the victim and Parker walked together into an elevator and traveled to a floor in the building where an apartment utilized by Parker was later discovered.”
She was later found in the drum. Parker is described as a gang member. There is also a report that the ex-con brought a large plastic barrel into the building at 95 Wall St. Police say that, one day later, Parker was spotted wheeling it to a U-Haul van with an unidentified man who parked the vehicle at the rear service entrance.
The prosecutor are clearly using the charges as placeholders for a murder charge if forensic and other tests come back with supporting evidence. For now, Parker is charged with being an accomplice to disturbing, moving and/or concealing human remains, being an accomplice to desecrating, damaging and/or destroying human remains and conspiring with a co-defendant to disturb, move, conceal and/or desecrate a deceased body.
We have previously discussed how prosecutors can count stack by bringing redundant charges, each slightly differently worded to cover the same alleged criminal conduct.
In the end, of course, none of these charges will matter if Parker finds himself in a homicide case. That however will depend on the test results given the lack of observable injuries. It also appears that Parker is protecting the other man since police have not been able to identify the driver. However, since this was a U-Haul there is presumably some record unless it was stolen.
This case is likely to unfold in the coming days as those tests and vehicle tracings efforts are completed.
What is most striking about the case is that it could be based entirely on those forensics and circumstantial evidence unless a witness comes forward. Parker is likely to be easily convicted on these secondary charges but the prosecutors are still short of a direct nexus or even theory for a murder. If they have enough to charge however a jury is likely to make some presumptions about a man who is seen walking into an apartment with a woman and then later allegedly carrying her out in a 55-gallon drum.