Phoenix Jordan "Cody" Parrish
August 8, 2004 - December 15, 2004
Find A Grave Memorial

Born August 8, 2004 his life would be short lived. On December 15, 2004 Phoenix Cody Parrish who was only four months old, would die at the hands of a woman who would then abandon his body at the morgue. In my imaginings, never has it come up to me that such a precious gift could be thrown away as though his life didn't matter. Cody and his sister, Jewell, had been removed from her custody and placed in the home of their uncle who was planning to adopt them. The people in the town of Dothan in Alabama weren't even aware that a child named Pheonix Cody Parrish existed until they learned of the tragedy of his death at the hands of his own mother. This small town was shocked and saddened to learn of his death.


Jewell

When his crying became too much for her, Pheonix's mother slammed his head against a bed post. The baby referred to as Cody, suffered broken ribs, broken wrists and a fracture to his skull. Yet again, the very people who were supposed to care for and protect a child, have failed. Cody's mother, father, uncle and CPS should share equal blame for the death of this precious baby. 

The children of Tierra Gobble were taken away from her for suspected child abuse, custody was given to their great uncle, Edgar Parrish on the grounds that he not remove them from the state of Florida and not allow their parents any contact with them. Edgar Parrish did move them away from the state of Florida and he also allowed Cody's parents to move in with him and three weeks later, Cody was dead.

The case worker assigned to Cody's case, for whatever reason, failed to report that Cody, his sister and his mother had all disappeared and he had not been able to contact or find them. Cary Felton claims he tried for weeks to get in touch with Tierra Gobble and was not

Cary also lied when he said he had been seeing the children at their current home, at least once a month. Had he been visiting as he said he was, he would have learned that the parents had also moved in with Edgar Parrish and once  gain had access to the children. This case worker was fired, but, not in time to save the life of another child.

On the morning of December 15, 2004, a call to 911 was made and it was reported that Cody was not breathing properly, he could be heard gasping for air in the background. Just before noon, Cody was taken to Southeast Alabama Medical Center, he could not be saved. During an autopsy it was revealed that Cody had five broken ribs, two broken wrists and his skull was badly fractured. Sgt. Tracey McCord said:

"This 4-month-old baby was tortured from the time he was born.
It's why I transferred to the vice unit.  You can't help but get 
attached when a baby is involved"

Adding to this tragedy is the fact that no one showed up to claim the body of this precious little boy.  The people in the town of Dothan were shocked by this and felt as though this baby had simply been thrown away. The man who defended Cody's mother at her trial, Tom Brantley said:

"People here are old fashioned, salt-of-the-earth, Bible-reading, God  fearing people who work
hard to pay the bills, trying to get ahead. We go
to our kids' football game and dance recitals.
 Here, we're very startled 
and upset by child deaths. Children die in Dothan, sometimes at the 
hands of their parents, but, rarely are they abandoned at the morgue"

I find this to be an odd statement to make considering his client obviously has no clue who God is and doesn't fear him in the least or her child would be alive and she would be loving him the way she was supposed to. Cody's mother was interviewed and during that interview, she didn't cry at all. The only person in the household who seemed to be upset at all about Cody's death, was his uncle, the one who had allowed the parents to move into his home after promising that he wouldn't. If he had kept that promise, Cody would still be alive. 

Cody was buried by loving, caring, strangers who donated the clothes that he wore and money for a casket and a burial plot. Buried in a long sleeve outfit, holding a teddy bear and laying in a white, child sized coffin. There were about 100 people who came to say a final good bye to this little boy. Standing in the rain in Sunset

Memorial Park on December 23, 2004, strangers who cared more about Cody than his actual family he, said their tearful good byes to him. Some had brought flowers, some brought cards and others had brought balloons. All of them showed this little boy more love than he had ever known in his short lived life. Robert Byrd, who was the coroner at the funeral home where Cory's service had been held said that people were overcome with sadness.



"A child came into this world depending on us for everything and got nothing. Not even the 
baby's kin claimed him. I have five children and I cannot even imagine. It was like the baby 
was thrown away. Never had this happened. This is a conservative area. Life is important."

Reverend Freddie McCain was the Chaplin at Byrd Funeral Home. With the service lasting less than 15 minutes, he said people just couldn't walk away when it ended.

"People just stayed. They wouldn't leave, it was incredible."

Reverend McCain did as much as he could to help the people who had come to Cody's funeral. When speaking to them he said that instead of being upset with Cody's mother, they should pray for her. 

"Cody's in Heaven, God took are of that. God takes care of little children"

The Reverend had been at the embalming of Cody's body and had to leave the room. Cody had so many bruises up and down his little body and one of of his arms was twisted so badly that it wouldn't lay the right way. A knot on his tiny head could not be fixed.

The defense had tried to say that as a child, Cody's mother had been abused and that since there were three people in the house, he wasn't even sure if she had killed Cody. He said that she took responsibility for his death and that she felt guilty saying she should have been a better mother. In my opinion, she never should have been a mother in the first place. It never ceases to amaze me how people can believe that because they were abused, it's a good enough reason to abuse their own children or those around them. How could anyone who suffered though abuse as a child, want to inflict that same abuse on their own children? It makes no sense to me. There is so much help out there for people who have been through this, there is no excuse not to use the resources available to help those who need it.

Seventeen months after the funeral, Cody's mother was found guilty of capital murder. It took less than an hour and a half for the jury to make their decision. The District Attorney, Doug Valeska, said that he could have accepted a plea bargain of life without parole, he just thought that she needed to be punished more severely:

"You had a baby who couldn't defend himself just tortured to death. 
It's not a case you settle."

"It's a 4-month-old who had a life before him just snuffed out. Our community 
just simply does not tolerate people who abuse children." 
Sheriff Lamar Glover

Cody's mother was sentenced to die and now sits on death row. It sickens me to know that the father of Cody, Samuel David Hunter, pleaded guilty to manslaughter and was sentenced to prison time and his release date has been set for February 25, 2009. Also disgusting to me is the fact that Cody's Uncle, Edgar Parrish pleaded guilty to aggravated child abuse and received prison time. He was released on November 3, 2008. There was no reason for this child to die, these people contributed to his death and they seem to have gotten away with it.

Cody's sister was sent to live with a foster family who later adopted her. At the time of his death, Cody's only possessions were a pacifier, two sippy cups, some diapers and  his clothing. There was a lawsuit filed on behalf of Cody against Hillsborough Kids who had placed Cody with his Uncle. $800,000. was won in a wrongful death suit. The money has been placed in an account after being awarded to Jewell. 

Disgustingly, the parents of Cody have tried to claim that the money should go to them since they have not yet exhausted all of their appeals. Lawyers from the Equal Justice Initiative filed motions trying to get the money saying the proceedings were unlawful. Marc Shapiro tried to suspend the proceedings involving the money saying that Cody's parents had not been informed that their son's estate might be entitled to this money. Claiming that the Gobble family was not aware that they had a right to serve as the administrators of Cody's estate. However, according to Alabama's "Slayer Statute", the law states that since Cody's parents were both convicted of crimes that caused his death, they are not entitled to any of the money. They are not are not able to profit from his death.

To this day, people still leave flowers, toys and other things on the grave of Cody. He is now and will always be remembered by the people who cared enough about his death, to give this abandoned little boy the care and love he should have been given in life. 

"There's something on the grave all the time. It is not forgotten."
Robert Byrd

Samuel David Hunter was released from prison on February 25, 2009.

Death occurred in the state of Alabama

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