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Parchem cause of death changed to gunshot wound

6:50 PM, May 13, 2013   |    comments
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ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. -- A major change in the case of a murdered waitress in St. Augustine was announced Monday.

The cause of death for Barbara Parchem has changed. The cause is no longer blunt force trauma. 

St. Johns County Medical Examiner Dr. Predrag Bulic said Parchem died from a gunshot wound.

Her body was so badly decomposed that it took another lab to determine she actually died from a gunshot to the neck according to Bulic.

Parchem's daughter, Lilly Ann Chavez, was released from jail on Sunday after posting a $25,000 bond.

Chavez is a person of interest in Parchem's murder investigation according to the sheriff's office.

Parchem was found murdered last month.

A St. Johns County Sheriff's office spokesperson said investigators believe Chavez, 43, knows what happened to her mother.

"Well, that's what they told Lilly, but Lilly says she doesn't know what happened," Chavez' attorney Tom Cushman said. 

Parchem, 67, of St. Johns County was missing for three weeks before search teams found her body in the woods in Flagler Estates April 30.

Bulic said he initially believed Parchem died from blunt force trauma because she had a badly fractured jaw, as if she had been hit with a "pipe or a bat."    

He said her remains were badly decomposed and so they were sent to an anthropology lab for further testing. 

There, Bulic said, staff found evidence that a bullet had entered the back side of Parchem's neck and broke her jaw when it exited on the left side.

Bulic said the manner of death remains homicide.

Upon hearing the news Cushman said, "It sounds like different week, different cause of death. I don't have much confidence in their conclusions."

"I've been assured that Lilly doesn't like firearms," Cushman said. 

Lilly Ann Chavez was arrested days after Parchem's body was discovered and charged with possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and possession of ammunition by a convicted felon.

However, Chavez' attorney says of the nine guns seized, some were antiques, and they were found at Chavez' fiance's apartment.  

Court records show her fiance' acquired the guns from Chavez last summer when her father died.

"She spent time at the apartment, but her residence was her mother's address," Cushman added.

Chavez' bond was initially set at $400,000, but eventually dramatically reduced to $25,000.

"The bond was unreasonable and outrageous in the first place," Cushman said.

Cushman believes investigators wanted to keep her in jail.

"I now presume if they had probably cause to arrest her for her mother's murder, they would have done so," Cushman said. "Having dealt with Lilly Chavez and her family, I've seen no evidence at all that she's involved with her mother's death."

There have been no arrests made in Parchem's murder investigation. 

First Coast News

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