His arrest must have come as a surprise. The first one, anyhow.
Police told him that he stalked his ex-girlfriend, 25-year-old Stephani Lawson.
They told him he violated a restraining order she had taken out of against him. They told him he threatened to kill her.
They told him he did all this via Facebook.
From September to December 2015, Tyler Parkervest was arrested four times, all stemming from these claims, the Orange County Register reported. He was charged with multiple felonies, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office in the US state of California.
Which must have first been confusing, given that Parkervest didn’t do any of it.
Then, it must have been frightening when his bail was raised to US$200,000 (NZ$280,000)last December and to pay it his grandparents had to offer their Irvine, California home for collateral.
Finally, police caught on.
From the beginning, Lawson had been alerting police to Parkervest’s supposed crimes. She filed eight police reports against him, claiming that he would drive by her home and that he threatened to kill not only her but her young daughter as well.
“Lawson alleged that the threats came from a Facebook account named ‘Tyler Parker,'” Orange County District Attorney Investigator Loren Dawson said.
Eventually, police discovered that the account didn’t actually belong to Parkervest, though it bore his likeness. Lawson, instead, had created it in a (mostly successful) attempt to frame her former boyfriend.
Last week, Lawson was convicted and sentenced to one year in jail after she “pleaded guilty to one felony count of false imprisonment by menace, violence, fraud, or deceit, and one felony count of perjury,” according to a statement from the Orange County DA.
Police grew suspicious of Lawson last May, when she testified during a preliminary hearing about some of the messages Parkervest had supposedly sent to her – one which included a particularly horrific claim.
“The Facebook messages threatened Lawson from testifying in court and one message stated a friend had fun raping Lawson’s daughter,” Dawson said.
But when she displayed screen grabs of the messages, some grew suspicious.
“One of my DA colleagues looked at it and said it doesn’t look right, and that triggered in our mind maybe we need to look into this further,” Deputy District Attorney Mark Geller told the City News Service.
So they launched a follow-up investigation in to these statements, obtaining search warrants for both Facebook and T-Mobile records.
Though they launched the investigation in May, it took “all summer” to access the records because the tech companies kept “kicking back” warrants, according to Geller.
“We had to go around and around with them all summer until we got the documents we needed,” he told the City News Service.
Finally, though, they received the records showing that Lawson wasn’t the victim. The threats had come from her own devices.
No, she wasn’t the victim at all. She was the perpetrator.
“The T-Mobile records showed that Lawson disguised herself as Parkervest with a similar Facebook account,” Dawson said. “Lawson sent herself numerous criminal threats from the phony ‘Tyler Parker’ Facebook account and reported to law enforcement that Parkervest sent her the messages. Lawson had Parkervest arrested four times for crimes that he did not commit.”
She was arrested on Sept. 28 in her hometown of Las Vegas, and charges against Parkervest were dropped on Oct. 6, according to the Orange County DA.
Though the charges against Parkervest were eventually dropped, his story concluded with a sad coda. His grandparents, the same ones who offered their home as collateral for bail, attended each one of his court hearings.
There were many.
But his grandmother died before he was exonerated.
After his release, Parkervest moved to Texas with his grandfather.
The Washington Post