The children who witnessed their parents allegedly rob a Tooele bank Monday and get arrested are now being cared for by a relative.
The 2-year-old boy and 5-year-old girl are now with their grandfather, who lives near Price, said Sgt. Todd Hewitt of the Tooele City Police Department.
The Department of Child and Family Services placed the children in the grandfather’s care Tuesday. Hewitt said the children are technically still in state custody, but hearings are under way that could allow the grandfather to have official legal custody.
Although the children were initially upset at the situation, Hewitt said they are reportedly happy and well. Both children were in the getaway car when their parents, William and Michelle Parker, were arrested by Tooele Police.
“I’ve heard, at least in my conversations with [the grandfather], that the kids are happy to be with him,” said Hewitt. “I know that the officers, when they went to the scene, had them laughing and stuff like that.”
At the scene, officers did talk to the children while other officers arrested their parents away from the car and out of the children’s view.
The parents, both 27, allegedly orchestrated an unarmed robbery at the Wells Fargo branch on Main Street and Utah Avenue. Michelle Parker allegedly went into the bank with a note that demanded money, while William Parker allegedly drove the getaway car.
An off-duty Tooele City police officer in the parking lot of Gold’s Gym, which is next door to the bank, noticed the couple’s odd behavior and followed their car. He called for backup as he stopped their vehicle on Valley View Drive near Grand View Circle, about a block away from the couple’s residence.
During interviews following their arrests, both suspects cited recent financial troubles as their motive for carrying out the robbery, said Hewitt. Michelle Parker had allegedly reconnoitered Wells Fargo earlier in the day for security cameras, and the couple had discussed leaving town for a time. Information from the interviews indicated that the money was planned to be used to pay off debts, not elevate their lifestyle.
“They had discussed possibly leaving for a little while, but it sounds to me from the interviews that they intended to use the money to just pay debts so they could continue to operate,” said Hewitt. “I don’t think they put a whole lot of planning into it. They had talked about it previously, but this isn’t Bonnie and Clyde. They didn’t put a whole lot of thought into it.”
The Parkers were each charged with robbery, a second-degree felony; theft, a class A misdemeanor; and two counts of reckless endangerment, a class A misdemeanor. They are both scheduled to make their first appearance in 3rd District Court Monday.