The body of Erica Parsons, a North Carolina teenager who has been missing since 2011, has been found, officials said Thursday. According to WCNC News, the remains of Parsons was recovered in Chesterfield County, South Carolina.
Erica’s body was found in a shallow grave. According to a spokesman for the sheriff’s department, Sandy Parsons, Erica’s adoptive father was the one who led officers to her remains. The medical examiner is yet to determine the cause of death.
Investigations revealed Erica’s adoptive parents, Casey and Sandy Parsons, 42, and 41 respectively, who she had been living with since 2000 in Rowan County, were abusing her. Even when Erica disappeared in 2011, no one knew she was missing until 2013. Sheriff Kevin Auten said the delay had made it difficult to get to the bottom of what happened to the girl who went missing at 13.
“Erica had not been seen by family members for more than a year and a half before anyone notified law enforcement. For that reason finding Erica has proven to be a challenge, we’ve faced many obstacles, but we will not stop looking for this little girl. She deserves to be found.”
In a news bulletin, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office revealed that the skeletal remains, which were discovered Tuesday, were identified as those of Erica Parsons by the medical examiner’s office.
Casey and Sandy Parsons had claimed that the teenager had gone to live with her biological grandmother, and they continued to collect her adoption assistance check every month for $634. The proceeds of their fraud totaled over $12,000. In 2015, they were sentenced to prison for tax fraud. Sandy Parsons got eight years, and Casey Parsons got 10 years.
The US District Judge Thomas Schroeder said his sentencing not only hinged on the fact that the couple continued to fraudulently receive checks meant for the well-being of the teen, but also because there was evidence that the young girl was abused. Schroeder talked about Erica being given dog food, having her arm broken, and being neglected when it came to family activities.
“I’ve sentenced more than 1,000 people. I cannot think of another case that has troubled me more.”
After Erica had disappeared, the Parsons had gone on national television, including an episode of Dr. Phil, insisting that the girl had been given to her biological grandmother, Irene Goodman. They said they had handed the girl over to the woman at a McDonald’s store and never heard from them again.
Investigations have shown that Erica suffered severe abuse at the hands of her adoptive parents. She was developmentally disabled, home-schooled, and isolated from the other biological children.
According to a federal court testimony, Erica lived a life of castigation and discipline. Her adoptive brother, James Parson, testified that if she stole anything as little as a cookie, she was fed canned dog food. James said he and the other children were also encouraged by their parents to abuse Erica.
James said that the parents did not spare her as well, adding that his mother would “bend her fingers back” when she did not listen. Sandy Parsons was known to always hit Erica on the head with a closed fist. Erica developed a bald spot on her head because of this.
In fact, it was James Parsons that reported she was missing July 30, 2013, after a misunderstanding with his parents. He was the one who told investigators that it had been almost a year and a half since anyone had seen her.
Parsons said the last time he saw Erica was in the autumn of 2011, and she was standing in a corner being punished. He said that Erica had complained about not feeling well, but Casey Parsons had told her to “shut the f—up.”
According to him, she was gone the next morning, and he never saw her again. He said his parents were gone for a better part of that day, which was very unusual. He said when they came back, they told him Erica had gone to stay with her biological grandmother.
FBI agents have since recovered traces of Erica’s blood, saliva, and urine from a closet in the Parsons residence.
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