Warren County couple charged in connection with U.S. Capitol violence

Warren County couple charged in connection with U.S. Capitol violence

CINCINNATI (FOX19) - A Warren County couple has been charged in connection with the violence that took place at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

According to a federal affidavit filed Thursday, Bennie Parker, 70, and his wife Sandra Parker, 60, have been arrested on charges of conspiracy, destruction of government property, obstruction of official proceedings, being on restricted building or grounds, and aiding and abetting.

The affidavit alleges the couple donned camo combat gear and marched along with a group known as the “Oath Keepers Militia.”

Federal investigators say Sandra joined “Oath Keepers” in breaching the Capitol while Bennie remained on the Capitol grounds and communicated with “Oath Keepers” who were inside during the violence.

Investigators describe the “Oath Keepers Militia” as a paramilitary group who believe that the federal government has been taken over by a shadowy conspiracy attempting to take away the rights of American citizens.

According to investigators, the group will accept anyone; however, they focus on recruiting current or former military, law enforcement, and first responders.

“The Oath Keepers,” the affidavit claims, alludes to the oath sworn by members of the military and police force to defend the Constitution “from all enemies foreign and domestic.”

On Jan. 6, lawmakers convened a joint session at the Capitol to certify the Electoral College vote for the 2020 presidential race.

A large crowd gathered outside the Capitol during the session, forcing their way past police and barricades, eventually making their way into the building, the affidavit states.

During the course of the violence, investigators say, approximately 81 members of the Capitol police, 58 members of the D.C. police, and many members of the media were assaulted.

In a viral video, the affidavit states, “Oath Keepers” dressed in matching uniforms and formed a “stack” (a military formation) and moved their way through the crowd to the east side of the Capitol.

From the federal affidavit, this photo shows portion of the "stack" circled in red.
From the federal affidavit, this photo shows portion of the "stack" circled in red. (Source: Criminal Complaint)

Investigators allege this, as well as surveillance video inside of the rotunda and videos posted to YouTube, confirms members of “The Oath Keepers” forcibly entered the Capitol.

The Parkers were identified as suspects after investigators say they found Bennie’s contact number listed in the cell phone of another alleged Oath Keepers member from Ohio who was arrested in connection to the riots.

Jessica Watkins, 38, and Donovan Crowl, 50, of Champaign County, Ohio, were arrested last month after investigators identified them through video footage and social media posts.

On Jan. 17, the FBI executed a search warrant of Watkins’s home and investigators say they found communications between Watkins and Bennie Parker in the months leading up to the riots in reference to plans for the day.

“Pack Khaki/Tan pants. Weapons are ok now as well. Sorry for the confusion. We are packing the car and heading your way shortly,” wrote Watkins to Bennie Parker.

“We don’t have any khakis We have jeans and out b d u’s So I can bring my gun?” replied Bennie Parker to Watkins.

According to the affidavit, records from the Comfort Inn Ballston in Arlington, Virginia confirm a room was rented for two adults from Jan. 5-7 by Sandra Parker who listed a home address in Morrow, Ohio.

Individuals named “Thomas Caldwell” and “Jessica Wagkins (sic)” rented rooms in the same Comfort Inn at the same time. All four have been identified in security camera footage, according to FBI reports.

The FBI obtained surveillance video from the Comfort Inn which it says shows Sandra and Bennie Parker were at the hotel interacting with individuals believed to be Watkins and Crowl.

From the Federal affidavit, the FBI says this image from surveillance video shows the Parkers, circled in yellow, and Watkins and Crowl, circled in red.
From the Federal affidavit, the FBI says this image from surveillance video shows the Parkers, circled in yellow, and Watkins and Crowl, circled in red. (Source: Criminal Complaint)

The affidavit says Watkins and Bennie Parker texted each other about the federal investigation following the Jan. 6 violence including this exchange from Jan. 9:

Watkins to Bennie Parker: “I’ve been following FBI wanted list, seems they’re only interested in people who destroyed things. I wouldn’t worry about them coming after us.”

Bennie Parker to Watkins: “I’m sure they’re no on us see some pics but no militia.”

Arrest warrants were issued for the Parkers on Feb. 12. They were both taken into custody and appeared via video for their initial hearings on Thursday.

Court records show that the married couple was released from custody on no bond. The case has since been transferred to the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Click here to report it. Please include title of story.

Copyright 2021 WXIX. All rights reserved.