- The Washington Times - Monday, February 7, 2005

BROOKLYN, Md. — As officials continued investigating the slaying of a state prison inmate aboard a bus carrying 34 other chained prisoners and five armed guards, more than 100 friends and relatives gathered yesterday to bury him.

Philip E. Parker Jr., 20, was remembered as a gentle, loving brother and son, a 6-foot-6-inch, 230-pound “teddy bear” who died Wednesday before he could turn his life around.

But many also expressed rage that Parker apparently was killed without the correctional officers noticing.

“There was negligence everywhere,” said Parker’s brother, Kenneth, 19. “I want to know why the guards didn’t protect my brother.”

The Baltimore Sun, citing a law-enforcement source, reported yesterday that a two-time murderer who had been aboard the bus is a suspect in Parker’s slaying. The paper said the source spoke on the condition of anonymity.

State corrections officials refused to comment about likely suspects or say whether the convicted killer, Kevin G. Johns Jr., had been on the bus or where he might have been seated. They say Parker was killed by one or more unidentified inmates.

“This investigation is ongoing; it’s thorough, and it will take some time before we have all the answers,” said Jacqueline Lampell, a spokeswoman for the Department of Public Safety and Correctional Services, which includes the Division of Correction. “We’re not going to give out parts of the investigation piecemeal.”

Some former state prison inmates have said correctional officers often slept aboard the buses during nighttime trips while loud music played.

Division of Correction spokeswoman Capt. Priscilla Doggett said yesterday that sleeping on post is a violation of a rule prohibiting officers from being inattentive on duty. The breach is punishable by disciplinary action.

Capt. Doggett said the bus has a radio that is played while inmates are being transported. The practice is being evaluated as part of a review of transportation policies prompted by Parker’s death, she said.

The five officers on the bus have been placed on administrative leave pending completion of the investigation and policy review.

Parker was serving a 3-year sentence for unarmed robbery and a weapons violation. He was among 35 shackled inmates being transported early Wednesday morning from Hagerstown to Baltimore, where he was incarcerated at the maximum-security Maryland Correctional Adjustment Center, also known as Supermax.

Parker had testified a day earlier as a defense witness at Johns’ sentencing hearing, saying Johns needed psychiatric treatment. Johns told the judge that without intensive treatment he probably would kill again. The judge didn’t recommend treatment and sentenced Johns to life without parole for strangling his 16-year-old cellmate, Armad Cloude, at the Maryland Correctional Training Center near Hagerstown.

Johns was incarcerated originally for choking and cutting his uncle to death in Baltimore.

Parker, who had a little more than a year left on his sentence, was found dead at the end of the 80-mile trip at 4 a.m., authorities said.

Capt. Doggett said all the inmates wore leg irons, handcuffs and “black boxes,” which hold inmates’ wrists close together and are attached to a waist chain.

Parker’s parents said they were told by a prison chaplain that Johns was on the bus with their son. They also said the chaplain told them that their son had been strangled from behind by a prisoner who later was found with blood on his wrists.

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