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She was wanted for the murder of her potential roommate, Beverly McGowan, a 34-year-old bank clerk. McGowan had placed an ad in the paper looking for a roommate. A woman named "Alice" answered the ad. The woman was actually Parent. Soon after, McGowan disappeared; on July 19, 1990, her remains were found in a rural canal in St. Lucie County, Florida. She had been mutilated by removing a tattoo on her stomach, her head and hands to hinder the identification of her corpse but a small tattoo was enough to identify her.
The origin of Parent's nickname, the "Chameleon Killer," was a photograph of an oil painting of herself she sent to police with the message "Best wishes: your Chameleon" typed on the back. The nickname was apt as she stole the identities of her victims and was found to have used McGowan's credit cards after she killed her. She also scoured graveyards for names and dates of birth and stole the information of other potential roommates by telling them she was a numerologist, soliciting their social security numbers, driver's licences and even birth certificates.
When Florida police caught up with her in Panama City, Florida, on April 6, 2002, she committed suicide by shooting herself in the heart as they stood outside her bedroom door waiting for her to get dressed.
There have been concerns that in her time on the run she is likely to have committed other crimes. Beverly McGowan's murder and the search for Elaine Parent were profiled on Unsolved Mysteries and America's Most Wanted. In 2014, it was featured on the Investigation Discovery program Swamp Murders.
- Tate, Tim (2002-04-21). "'Chameleon Killer' cheats the Florida police by ending her many-faced life". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2010-03-18.
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