Ohio couple tied to militia group charged in Capitol breach


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — An Ohio couple linked to the Oath Keepers militia group were involved in the Jan. 6 breach of the U.S. Capitol, with the wife allegedly entering the building while her husband stayed in contact outside, according to a criminal complaint filed in federal court.

The complaint says that Sandra Parker was in contact with another Ohio defendant and Oath Keepers member, Jessica Watkins, for weeks leading up to the trip to Washington for the march on the Capitol.

Parker, 60, and her husband, Bennie Parker, 70, face charges of conspiracy, destruction of government property, obstruction of an official proceeding and entering a restricted building. Preliminary charges were filed against them in federal court in Washington.

The couple had initial appearances Thursday before a Cincinnati federal magistrate judge, who then transferred the cases to Washington, where many of the Capitol breach cases are being prosecuted.

Messages seeking comment on the charges were left Friday for the Parkers’ attorneys.

To date, federal charges have been filed in more than 200 cases involving the attack by a mob of supporters of former President Donald Trump, including many with ties to far right groups like the Oath Keepers.

Sandra and Bennie Parker were both dressed in camouflaged combat attire as they arrived at the Capitol the morning of the attack, the complaint said. Sandra Parker joined other members of the anti-government Oath Keepers group in “a stack or line formation” used by military infantrymen, which then marched up the Capitol steps before entering, according to the complaint.

She is seen wearing a tactical helmet and goggles, sunglasses, a camouflage jacket and a black backpack in a photo in the Capitol rotunda with other Oath Keepers, the complaint said.

On Jan. 9, Jessica Watkins told Bennie Parker by text she thought the FBI was only interested in people “who destroyed things,” according to the complaint.

“I’m sure they’re not on us see some pics but no militia,” Bennie Parker responded.

In a federal indictment filed Jan. 27, Watkins and a member of her militia, ex-Marine Donovan Ray Crowl, were charged along with a Virginia man with helping to plan and coordinate the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol.

By Andrew Welsh-Huggins

Associated Press

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