Disappearance of Erica Parsons

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For the fictional character, see The Labours of Erica.
Erica Parsons
Born Erica Lynn Parsons
(1998-02-24) February 24, 1998 (age 17)
Independence, Missouri
Disappeared November 19, 2011
Salisbury, North Carolina
Status Missing for 3 years, 6 months and 9 days
Residence Salisbury, North Carolina
Nationality American
Ethnicity Caucasian
Known for Missing child who was reported missing on July 30, 2013
Parent(s) Carolyn Parsons and Billy Goodman (biological)
Sandy and Casey Parsons (adoptive)

Erica Lynn Parsons (born February 24, 1998), who lived outside Salisbury, North Carolina, was reported missing July 30, 2013, and has not been seen by anyone other than her family since November 19, 2011. A year after the investigation began the Rowan County, North Carolina sheriff's office continued to search for clues. Sandy and Casey Stone Parsons, who adopted and home-schooled her, are not official suspects in the case and no one has been charged.[1][2] In a related federal case, the adoptive parents have been sentenced to federal prison for fraudulently accepting federal benefits for Erica when she was not living with them.[3]

Events prior to the investigation[edit]

Carolyn Parsons separated from husband Steve, who was Sandy's brother, before she gave birth to Erica in 1998. Carolyn Parsons, who had three other children and did not want to see Erica go through what she did as a foster child, gave Erica up for adoption in 2000.[4] She has not seen her daughter since January 2011. Billy Goodman is Erica's biological father.[5]

The adoptive parents claim that Erica is with her biological grandmother Irene "Nan" Goodman in Asheville, North Carolina; they claim to have first heard from her in July 2011. Investigators have found no evidence of her, and Billy Goodman said there is no Irene Goodman.[5] Casey Parsons described Erica and Goodman meeting at McDonald's in Mooresville, North Carolina in September 2011, followed by further visits. On one of those visits in December 2011, Casey Parsons said, Erica asked to stay with her grandmother permanently in December 2011. In February 2012, shortly before Erica's 14th birthday, Casey Parsons said she talked with Erica by telephone for the last time.[6][7]

The investigation and related events[edit]

Jamie Parsons, the son of Sandy and Casey and 19 years old at the time, reported Erica missing July 30, 2013 after a fight with his parents. He said he had not seen his adoptive sister since November 19, 2011, and he claimed Erica was being abused. Later, he told WBTV he had not seen abuse but merely believed abuse was happening because other people were saying it, and he told his parents he was sorry for what he said.[1][5]

Other people claimed Erica had been abused, and no one outside of her immediate family had seen her since the Parsons moved to Millers Chapel Road in April 2011.[5] Soon after Erica was reported missing, Sandy and Casey Parsons hired an attorney, believing they were suspects.[7] Investigators found red stains in the house but have not said what tests showed about them.[5]

Sandy and Casey Parsons appeared on the Dr. Phil show on August 20 and 21.[6] Sandy Parsons was considered "strongly deceptive" by an FBI agent after taking a polygraph test, while Casey Parsons claimed to be in too much pain for a polygraph to be accurate.[4][8]

On August 27, 2013, Sandy and Casey Parsons moved to Fayetteville, North Carolina.[4] Their two youngest biological children were taken away by the Department of Social Services shortly after the case began, and it is believed Erica must be found in order for them to be returned, though the parents visit their children every week.[1] The two children have lived at times with Robin Ashley, sister to Casey Parsons, and with William Steve Parsons and Janet Parsons, father and stepmother to Sandy Parsons.[5] A custody hearing on September 11, 2014 may determine where the children will live.[9]

On January 30, 2014, the Federal Bureau of Investigation offered a $25,000 reward in addition to the $10,000 offered by the sheriff.[10] Six months later, the total reward increased to $50,000.[11]

Robin Ashley had Erica for eight months but Casey Parsons took her back fearing she would get in trouble for receiving money for a child who was not in her home. Warrants showed the couple continued to cash checks when Erica was not living with them.[5]

Related federal charges[edit]

The United States Attorney for the Middle District of North Carolina said that Sandy and Casey Parsons were arrested in Fayetteville on July 30, 2014 for fraud. It is alleged that the adoptive parents received benefits for Erica when Erica did not live with them. The couple were released on bond.[12][13] Both pleaded not guilty and a trial was set for September 8[14] but continued until October 14.[15] According to court records, Casey Parsons pleaded guilty to 15 charges; it was likely other charges would be dismissed, and sentencing was scheduled for February 10, 2015.[2]

A jury found Sandy Parsons guilty on most charges in October.[16] At a sentencing hearing in federal court on February 18, 2015, Jamie Parsons testified that his parents, and he and the other children, abused Erica physically and psychologically. Robin Ashley also testified about abuse. Federal prosecutor Anand Ramaswamy said there was no record of Erica during the time her adoptive parents illegally accepted money, claiming, "The reason is she’s no longer alive." The hearing was continued until March 27.[17]

On March 27, U.S. District Judge Thomas Schroeder sentenced Casey Parsons to 10 years and her husband to 8 years for fraud.[18] Schroeder "believes Casey was the brains behind what happened" and said Erica "endured horrific abuse" and that the fraud distracted investigators from the other problems. The judge also said there was no evidence Erica was living.[3]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Wootson Jr., Cleve R. (July 14, 2014). "A year later, clues few in search for teen; Erica Parsons' biological mother questions investigators' progress". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  2. ^ a b Gamm, Joe (October 1, 2014). "Casey Parsons pleads guilty to fraud charges". News & Record. Retrieved October 2, 2014. 
  3. ^ a b Walker, Shavonne (March 27, 2015). "Casey Parsons gets 10 years, Sandy, 8; judge says Erica Parsons no longer exists". Salisbury Post. Retrieved March 27, 2015. 
  4. ^ a b c Wootson Jr., Cleve R. (August 29, 2013). "Erica's mother: Adoptive parents not forthcoming". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g Potts, Shavonne (July 30, 2014). "Erica Parsons: A Year Later". Salisbury Post. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  6. ^ a b Wootson Jr., Cleve R.; Arthur, Bill (August 29, 2013). "Parsonses to Dr. Phil: We did not kill Erica: Polygraph test results to air in 2nd segment Wednesday". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1B. 
  7. ^ a b Burley, Dan (August 9, 2013). "Hunt for missing teen to get assist from FBI, SBI". The Charlotte Observer. p. 6B. 
  8. ^ Davies, Katie; Warren, Lydia (August 21, 2013). "Adoptive father of missing girl who insists she is safe is ruled 'strongly deceptive' on Dr Phil polygraph after being accused of her murder... and his wife REFUSES to be tested". Daily Mail. Retrieved August 13, 2014. 
  9. ^ Burcham, Kathryn (September 11, 2014). "Custody hearing for adoptive siblings of Erica Parsons". WSOC-TV. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  10. ^ Wootson Jr., Cleve R. (January 31, 2014). "FBI adds reward in Parsons case $25,000 offered to help locate Erica, the missing teen from Rowan County". The Charlotte Observer. p. 1A. 
  11. ^ "Reward for information in Parsons case now $50,000". Salisbury Post. July 30, 2014. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Sandy and Casey Parsons arrested on fraud charges". Salisbury Post. July 30, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2014. 
  13. ^ Potts, Shavonne (August 1, 2014). "Adoptive parents launch website for missing Erica Lynn Parsons". Salisbury Post. Retrieved August 1, 2014. 
  14. ^ "Parsonses trial set for Sept. 8". Salisbury Post. August 8, 2014. p. 1A. 
  15. ^ "Trial delayed for Erica Parsons' parents". WCNC-TV. August 19, 2014. Retrieved September 11, 2014. 
  16. ^ Potts, Shavonne (October 28, 2014). "Jurors find Sandy Parsons guilty of fraud". Salisbury Post. Retrieved October 29, 2014. 
  17. ^ Walker, Shavonne (February 19, 2015). "Federal prosecutor believes missing teen Erica Parsons may be dead". Salisbury Post. Retrieved February 19, 2015. 
  18. ^ "Judge blames couple for Erica Parsons' death". Winston-Salem Journal. McClatchy Tribune. March 27, 2015. Retrieved March 28, 2015.