FAIRFIELD, TEXAS – The Wild Hunt recently reported on the arrest of Amber Michelle Parker, an alleged Wiccan charged with human trafficking. This story provides an update to that case.
The Known Facts of the Case
Parker worked as an eighth grade teacher. After her arrest, she resigned. Parker also has a husband and daughter.
Police have disclosed the that the minor involved in the trafficking charge is a female teenager. Her name, age, and type of relationship to Parker remain unknown. According to police, family members had tipped off police about Parker’s activities. The police had Parker under investigation for months prior to her arrest.
The police allege that on November 19, Parker used Facebook to send photos of the lingerie-clad minor to two men in Morocco. Parker informed them that the minor was a virgin. According to the police, Parker wanted the two men to come to the U.S. The men, however, wanted Parker and the minor to go to Morocco.
On December 26, 2018, Parker flew alone to Morocco. During Parker’s absence, the minor’s father traveled to Texas to collect his daughter. The minor is no longer residing in Texas. Police arrested Parker on January 2, 2019, as she returned from Morocco.
After Parker’s arrest, one of the Moroccan men, Youssef Derkhi, went public on Facebook. He alleged that Parker was in love with him. He denied the charge of sex trafficking. He also posted a video of Parker in Morocco.
Almost all information about this case comes from the Freestone County Sheriff’s Office and the McLennan County Sheriff’s Office. Neither the minor nor Amber Parker has issued any statement. Parker remains in the Freestone County Jail. The only non-police source of information is Derkhi’s Facebook post.
For people with trust in police and the courts, this may be enough. For people without that trust, this single source of information may be troubling.
KWTX TV reported the connection to Wicca, noting:
According to documents obtained exclusively by KWTX reporter John Carroll, in an interview, Amber’s husband told investigating deputies she told him in early 2018 she was going to become a member of a “cult called Wicca.”
“Mr. Parked [sic] explained that at some point during the year his wife had created an anonymous Facebook page to where she could secretly communicate with strange men associated with the Wicca organization,” the document reads. “During the year his wife had left to go to Louisiana to meet with her healer and again to Waco to meet with someone in her group.”
Many mysteries remain in this case. It is not clear how Parker made the initial contact with the man or men in Morocco. It is also not clear how Parker explained her trip to Morocco to her husband and daughter. It is not clear why Derkhi surfaced, nor why police did not arrest her as she was leaving for Morocco, as they had been monitoring Parker’s online activity for months. Police are usually reluctant to allow suspects to leave the country.
Despite Parker’s alleged involvement with Wicca by media sources, we’ve been unable to verify any connection to the religion or the community. TWH was unable to find any Pagans or Wiccans in Texas with firsthand knowledge of Parker as a community member. If she is or was a member of any Wiccan group, we have yet to uncover any affiliation. In addition, if her practice of Wicca is verified, it is unclear how the reported identification of her spiritual practice relates to the alleged criminal activity.
This story had great potential for sensationalism. US national media such as Newsweek, People, and The New York Post picked up this story. International media such as International Business Times, OE24 Austria, and The South China Morning Post also covered the story.
A Google search for “Amber Michelle Parker,” her full name, yields 15,900 results, while Google searches for “Amber,” “Parker,” and “human trafficking” yield about 323,000 results. A Google search for “Amber,” “Parker,” “Wicca,” and “human trafficking” yields 16,700 results. This indicates that, in the online world, this story was seldom linked to Wicca.
For a deeper analysis, the first ten results from each of the three searches were examined for demagogic sensationalism of Wicca.
These three Google searches yielded 24 unique news reports about this case. Of these 24 reports, four articles, or 16%, referenced Parker’s alleged Wiccan practice.
One of the stories that referenced Parker’s Wiccan practice had a comment section. Four people had entered comments. Three of them objected to the reference to Parker’s Wiccan practice.
Another story that did not reference Parker’s Wiccan practice had a space for comments. One person thanked that news venue for not mentioning Parker’s supposed Wiccan practice.
In this case, the allegation of Wiccan practice failed to generate a large amount of sensationalism in central Texas. This is consistent with Wicca gradually becoming a part of US religious pluralism.