Corey Parker, Robert Denney: ‘Dateline’ NBC — College Coed’s Stabbing Death By Alleged Copycat Killer In Jacksonville Beach, Florida, On Tonight

Corey Parker, the 25-year-old Jacksonville Beach, Florida, student who was stabbed to death over a hundred times in her apartment almost two decades ago, is the featured crime case for tonight’s Dateline NBC. Dateline NBC’s episode titled, “Rear Window,” follows Florida detectives as they try to find the killer of a popular college student and waitress who was found dead in her apartment after a night out with friends. As police close in, they learn about a neighborhood Peeping Tom with a dark past, which makes him a prime suspect. Dateline’s story will be told by police officials, Angela Corey, and Melissa Nelson.

Thanksgiving Murder, Jacksonville Beach, Florida, 1998

It was the day after Thanksgiving in 1998, when police were dispatched to a Jacksonville Beach apartment located in the 1500 Block of North fourth Street. The body of a woman identified as Corey Parker was found with multiple stab wounds to the body. Nothing was disturbed in the home, and the only struggle that took place happened in the bedroom.

An autopsy report revealed that Corey Parker was stabbed over 100 times, and the killer spent time with the body, making more cuts, and smearing his finger in the blood, according to an old transcript of Cold Case Files at TVArk. Here are some key findings detectives noted, upon entering the apartment.

  • Female body laying on bed, scrunched up back in the corner, covered in blood.
  • Victim left with her legs spread wide open, naked, and dead in a pool of blood.
  • The body had one gaping wound on each side of the neck with multiple stab wounds.
  • More than half of the wounds were inflicted after death, as if the killer was “playing with the victim.”

The Police Investigation Into College Coed’s Death

The police investigation revealed that Corey Parker had been out with friends the night before Thanksgiving but returned home at about 1:30 a.m. to get some sleep. Evidence found at the scene showed that the killer may have entered her apartment through an open window and attacked Corey Parker while she was asleep in bed, according to Forensic Files’ transcript.

“Inside the kitchen of Corey’s apartment, police found a bloodstain on the kitchen counter next to the sink and on the windowsill above the sink, both inside and outside. The reason, we believe, the killer didn’t go out the door was because of the light that was outside. The kitchen window offered the suspect a way to both get in and out of the apartment without being illuminated.”

Detectives were originally called to the scene when a coworker from Ragtime Tavern found the body after going to the apartment to do a welfare check. Corey had not shown up to work that day, which was unlike her. The college student, whose parents lived in New York, was in Jacksonville Beach working as a waitress while she attended school.

People Start Talking: The Investigation Comes Together

According to Dateline’s coverage, Parker was well-liked by her employers, who described her as a motivated and extremely popular young woman. Police were able to rule out several suspects, which included her boyfriend at the time. The case went cold for a while, until a $20,000 reward was offered for information about the case. This renewed interest in the murder, and got the locals talking about the crime. One group of friends compared notes about a man who worked with them named Robert Denney, whom they described as odd. Around the time of the murder, several people noticed that Denney was highly emotional and often tearful. Then, someone remembered that Robert Denney stated that he liked watching a woman who lived nearby. It turned out that Robert Denney lived next door to Corey Parker and had been seen peeping into some apartments in the area, Dateline NBC will explain.

Jacksonville Beach, Florida, is a picturesque beach town that attracts young people from all over the nation. Despite its beauty, at night, it is very dangerous, according to local police. When the murder of Corey Parker struck the community, they were paralyzed with fear.

Robert Denney Had A Dark Past: His Brother Killed, Too.
After a lengthy investigation, forensic investigators were able to match Robert Denney’s DNA with evidence collected at the crime scene. It is believed that the murder of Corey Parker was a copycat killing, inspired by Robert Denney’s brother, Patrick Denney, who killed a woman at the age of 15 years earlier.

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Robert Erik Denney was sentenced to life in prison. The Florida Times reported that Denney says he’s innocent of the murder and says you can’t trust the DNA evidence. There is a Facebook page titled, Robert Denney’s Advocates, which supports him.

Watch Corey Parker and Robert Erick Denney’s story tonight on Dateline NBC Friday at 10/9 p.m. Central. Check out more Dateline stories: Pam Candelario and Julie Griffith.

[Image via The Corey Parker Memorial/Facebook]