Local News

Man charged with murder after body found in burned house

Posted September 12, 2008

— Authorities arrested a Vance County man Friday and charged him with murder after investigators found a body in the ruins of his estranged wife's house, which burned to the ground Thursday.

Robert Sterling Parham Jr. faces charges of first-degree murder and first-degree arson, Sheriff Peter White said in a news release Friday afternoon.

Parham, 36, was in the Vance County jail Friday awaiting arraignment on Monday.

Investigators are waiting for an autopsy to identify the body, but White said they believe it is that of Geneva Guin Brown Parham, 34, who lived at 2569 Allison Cooper Drive with her three children.

Geneva Parham's stepfather and mother, Franklin Dillard and Karen Brown, said Friday that their daughter and her husband had been having marital problems for the past few years and that she was in the process of getting a restraining order against him.

Court records show Robert Parham had filed a domestic violence order against his wife in June, but that it expired in July. Custody papers showed she was the primary caretaker of the children and that he was permitted to visit every two weeks and could not go to the home without permission.

Dillard said, however, Robert Parham frequently showed up at the home and had repeatedly threatened to take the children and kill her.

"He was very controlling, and we were in the processes of trying to get her out of it," Dillard said. "Basically, he just kept her under his thumb by the threat of taking her children away from her."

White said Thursday that the Parhams were fighting that morning in front of the house and that Robert Parham had a wound on his arm that was relevant to the case. But he declined to disclose further details.

The children were at school when the fire occurred around 11:30 a.m. and have been taken into the custody of the Department of Social Services.

"We're going to raise the three boys," Dillard said. "That's all we can do."

Robert Parham and Geneva Parham worked together several years ago as mechanics at East Carolina Tire Shop in Henderson.

David Campbell, the shop's service manager, said he was shocked by her apparent death and his arrest, describing the couple as his "tag team."

"Really, they weren't a tag team, but that's what I called them," Campbell said. "They worked together in the bay, and they got along great."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • teacher-mom Sep 12, 2008

    Joan B that is one of the most insensitive remarkd I have ever read. People change. They fall in and out of love. You do not know what went on in that house. She did not deserve thid. Her children do not either.

  • MizzZeta Sep 12, 2008

    Here we go again! It seems that there has been a sharp increase in deaths related to domestic violence in recent months. I'm sorry that Ms. Parham had to die this way and I'm sorry that children will grow up without their mother. Just a sad situation...

  • ChristaS Sep 12, 2008

    No one said that all men are BAD......I am referring to the ones who think they can get away with these heinous house burnings, etc., to attempt to get away with killing of the wife. That's all. I have a WONDERFUL husband........

  • mwalker Sep 12, 2008


  • Obama-is-a-retard Sep 12, 2008

    When will women learn. These men just don't turn controlling they are that way from the beginning. These women are as much to blame. They should have never been married and never have had kids!

  • iwasjustsaying Sep 12, 2008

    The children are 4, 7, and 11. Please everyone pray for these children...they have lost everything.

  • MellowMelnJC Sep 12, 2008

    They are going to love him in Prison!

    Im sorry that the kids are going to have to live the rest of their lives knowing that the father did this to their Mother...

    I went to school with a guy that his father killed his mother and the killed his self...the son has had a VERY rough life. Its kinda sad

  • godzsluv Sep 12, 2008

    why are all these husbands killing their wives? This is so said. These men (and some of these foolish women) are "snapping". Being a single white female, I encourage those who are dating to get a back ground report on these people. You think you found the right one, mess around and get married, then we are reading about you in the news paper....PEOPLE LEARN HOW TO MAINTAIN YOUR MINDS!!! Go talk to a pastor or somebody, before you decide to take somebodies life.

  • circlecity Sep 12, 2008

    This is another way some men get out of paying child support and alimony. If my ex thought of this he probly do this to me to not pay because this is the only tie to his child that he does not pick up but once every three months

  • therose2005 Sep 12, 2008

    i agree with you candlelove, i wander how old these kids are, does anybody know? maybe the grandparents or some family member will get them so they can keep them together.