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Published: Monday, 1/5/2009

Man held on $500,000 bond in central Toledo murder

BY MIKE SIGOV
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Judge Robert G. Christansen ordered Mr. Parker held in the Lucas County jail in lieu of $500,000 bond pending a preliminary hearing Jan. 13.

Mr. Parker showed no emotion during the arraignment, where at least eight Lee family members were present.

As soon as Mr. Parker was arraigned about 9:40 a.m., the family members were whisked out of the court room by a representative of the court's victims office. They refused to comment.

A central Toledo man has been charged with murder in connection with the death of a man whose body was found in his burning home yesterday morning.

Robert Parker, 42, of 1247 Hamilton St., is to be arraigned this morning in Toledo Municipal Court. He is charged with stabbing Donald Lee, 74, to death in his apartment at 328 Belmont Ave. in the Albertus Brown housing complex.

According to police, Mr. Parker was developed as a suspect shortly after firefighters found Mr. Lee's body after responding to a fire at the residence. Under questioning by detectives, Mr. Parker confessed to stabbing Mr. Lee several times and then setting the fire, police said.

Mr. Lee is Toledo's first homicide victim of 2009.

Relatives were baffled yesterday as to why Mr. Lee would become a homicide victim.

"I just don't know why anyone would do anything like that to him," Trazon Harris said.

Donald Lee was discovered in his kitchen after the fire crew put out a burning couch. Donald Lee was discovered in his kitchen after the fire crew put out a burning couch.
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As tears streamed down her face, Ms. Harris, 46, of Toledo, added: "He was very, very kind. He'd give his heart to anybody."

Ms. Harris, a custodian at the University of Toledo, was one of several family members who gathered yesterday in front of Mr. Lee's residence, hugging and comforting each other.

Most of his life, Mr. Lee cleaned homes and buildings in Toledo, including those in the apartment complex where he lived. He never completely retired, said his sister, Barbara Minor of Toledo.

"He was very lovable, very kind," said Ms. Minor, 69.

Niece Brook Pinkney, 26, said Mr. Lee had raised her three brothers: 21-year-old twins Evin and Devin Lee and Kenneth Lee, 23.

Mr. Lee also looked out for children in the neighborhood and shared with his neighbors whatever they needed, "things like sugar, anything," said Ms. Pinkney, a UT student.

"Kids loved him. He always had treats for everybody," added Ms. Minor.

Linnie Willis, the executive director of the Lucas Metropolitan Housing Authority, which operates the complex, said she met Mr. Lee at a recent community forum, where he appeared very interested in the development plans for the complex and asked several questions.

"He seemed to be a very nice gentleman who went along well with other residents," Ms. Willis said.

She said he was not on the LMHA payroll but possibly was one of the LMHA tenants who are paid stipends as custodians.

Firefighters were called to the scene at 9:12 a.m., at which time light smoke was showing from the apartment, according to the Toledo fire department.

Fire crews made a forced entry, found a small couch fire in the living room on the first floor of the unit, and extinguished it moments later, Battalion Fire Chief Gerald Abair said.

Firefighters then looked in the kitchen and found a man's body there, at which time they turned the investigation over to Toledo police, Chief Abair said.

An autopsy is scheduled for today by the Lucas County Coroner's Office.

Contact Mike Sigov at:

sigov@theblade.com

or 419-724-6089.

Blade staff writer David Patch contributed to this report.



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