Charges in Decade-Old Murder Case in Oakland Park
Murder victim Vernon Williams.
Photo: Broward Sheriff's Office
Back in June 2000, a man named David Joseph ran into a hotel lobby in Oakland Park, screaming that his cousin had been shot. He just didn't stick around to be questioned by investigators. His cousin, Vernon Williams, died from gunshot wounds. The Holiday Inn room in which Williams died was registered to Paul Parris, visiting from South Carolina.
Parris was arrested a month later on cocaine charges, but Broward Sheriff's Office investigators were denied permission to talk to him about their unsolved murder. When they caught up with Joseph, he told them that he and Williams had been held at gunpoint by Parris and that in the ensuing struggle, Williams had been shot.
After Parris was released in 2001, investigators lost track of him and the case. But detectives opened the case again this past February and found Parris in a North Carolina prison, this time on kidnapping charges.
But Parris told yet another version of what happened in that Holiday Inn hotel room.
From the BSO release:
According to Parris, the victim and his cousin tried to rob him during a drug deal. He said both Joseph and Williams were armed. Parris said he was trying to wrestle the gun away from Joseph when a shot was fired, hitting Williams. Parris said he dropped the weapon and fled the scene.
So which one of these unsavory characters is telling the truth? That question led investigators back to Parris' girlfriend, Raven Lillie.
Originally, Lillie told detectives she was waiting for Parris in the parking lot of the hotel. She said Parris claimed that the guys had tried to rob him and that he was forced to shoot back in self-defense. Most of Lillie's story remains the same, but she has now divulged that Parris went into the hotel room with a gun and a roll of duct tape. After the shooting, he left the hotel room with the gun and the cocaine. Lillie said she didn't mention anything about the drug deal back in 2000 because she was trying to protect her then-boyfriend.
Yes, hindsight's always 20/20 after a breakup, isn't it? Parris has been charged with murder.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss New Times Broward-Palm Beach's biggest stories.