Elaine Parent was born in the Bronx in 1942, but in the mid to late-1990s spent five years on the run in Britain. Here, Parent apparently perfected a refined English accent, went into hiding with a former lover and enjoyed baiting detectives back in Florida. In 1998 she sent them a photograph of an oil painting of herself, with the phrase "Best wishes: your Chameleon" typed neatly on the back. The Florida press gave her another sobriquet: "The world's most wanted woman." The police hunt for Parent had begun in July 1990 after Beverly McGowan's mutilated and decapitated corpse was discovered on a remote canal bank in southern Florida. Her head and hands had been hacked off with a chainsaw to delay identification; a distinctive tattoo of Thumper, the Disney rabbit, had also been crudely cut from her stomach. But the killer missed the tattoo of a flower on her ankle and the police were able to identify the body as McGowan's.
Police also discovered that in June 1990 the dead woman placed a flat-share advertisement in the classified columns of the Sun-Sentinel newspaper. Parent answered the advert. Calling herself "Alice" and claiming to be an English employee of IBM on secondment to Florida. McGowan agreed to rent a room to Alice, who quickly won her flatmate's confidence.
For most of her adult existence, Parent was a chimera. Some of her 20 identities were stolen from women she met and seduced but did not kill, some were entirely invented and some cannot be traced by detectives at all. Privately, they feared that these women could have met the same fate as Beverly McGowan.
Parent eventually made her way back to FL and was tracked down by authorities to a Panama City apartment. When one officer became suspicious and knocked on the door, she shot herself in the chest. Bringing the decade long manhunt to a fatal end. (1-Elaine Parent 2-Beverly McGowan 3-Composite of Parent as get alias "Alice") #florida #panamacity #manhunt #chameleon #conartist #murder #sofl