Erica Lynn Parsons: FBI joins hunt for missing 15-year-old girl not seen for 2 years as adoptive parents claim she went to live with now deceased biological grandmother
- Erica Lynn Parsons, 15, last seen November 19, 2011, leaving adoptive parents' home in Salisbury, North Carolina
- Case and Sandy Parsons' lawyer claims Erica called in February 2012 to say she wants to stay with her birth grandmother
- Adoptive parents will go on Dr. Phil talk show to discuss case
- Social services investigated allegations of abuse when Erica was 4 years old
By Snejana Farberov
PUBLISHED: 10:06 EST, 10 August 2013 | UPDATED: 10:08 EST, 10 August 2013
Without a trace: Erica Lynn Parsons, 15, was reported missing by her 19-year-old brother last week after she was last seen in Salisbury, North Carolina, in November 2011
The FBI and the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation have joined the search for a 15-year-old girl who was last seen two years ago, but was not reported missing until late last month.
Police became aware of Erica Lynn Parsons' disappearance only July 30 when her 19-year-old brother contacted them and said that she was last seen leaving the Salisbury home of her parents in November 2011.
An attorney hired by Erica's adoptive parents, Casey and Sandy Parsons, claimed that his clients were under the impression that the 15-year-old went to live with her biological grandmother and wanted to be left alone, the Charlotte Observer reported.
The lawyer, Carlyle Sherrill, said that two years ago, a person claiming to be a relative or friend of Erica's birth parents came by Parsonses' home on Miller Chapel Road to pick her up and take her to her family.
The adoptive parents said they did not raise an alarm at the time because Erica visited that person in Asheville on several occasions.
According to Sherrill, In February 2012, Erica called the Parsonses and informed them in no uncertain terms that she was not coming back because she did not want to live with them anymore, Asheville Citizen-Times reported.
‘They looked at it as being a rebellious teenager. That was an attitude they took,’ Sherrill said. ‘I don't know that at any time it dawned on them she was a missing person.’
According to police investigating the case, when they questioned Casey and Sandy Parsons over a two-day period last week, the parents lied to them and were uncooperative.
'Rebellious teen:' Erica, who was adopted by the Parsons family when she was 2 weeks ago, allegedly informed them by phone that she does not want to return home and plans to stay with her birth parents' relatives
Their attorney, however, insists that his clients did not purposefully fabricate anything, but were rather relying information that they believed to be true.
Sherrill added that her clients stopped answering questions when detectives began insinuating that that the Parsonses may have played a role in their adopted daughters' disappearance.
On Friday, Erica's adoptive aunt and grandmother were interviewed by investigators. Meanwhile, the Parsonses spoke to local reporters, saying that they believed the 15-year-old was OK, but afraid to contact them due to all the media attention.
TIMELINE OF ERICA PARSONS' MISSING PERSONS CASE:
1998: Erica Lynn Parsons, age 2 weeks, is taken in by Casey and Sandy Parsons, who have three children of their own. She is the biological child of Sandy Parsons’ brother’s wife.
2000: The Parsonses officially adopt Erica in Cabarrus County
1999-2011: The couple have two more children, Brooke and Toby.
February 2010: William James Parsons, 16, the couple’s biological son, is arrested for biting his younger brother.
August 2011: James Parsons is charged with two counts of assault, animal cruelty and assault on a minor. Charges are dismissed when Casey Parsons does not appear in court.
Nov. 19, 2011: The Parsonses take Erica to a McDonald’s in Mooresville to catch a ride to the Asheville home of her biological grandmother, Irene 'Nan' Goodman.
December 2011: The Parsonses say on her third visit to Asheville, Erica calls home and says she doesn’t want to live with them anymore.
2012: Casey Parsons files a missing persons report for her daughter, Brooke.
July 30, 2013: After his parents kick him out, James Parsons contacts the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and reports that Erica has been missing for two years.
August 2013: After undergoing two days of questioning by investigators, the Parsonses hire attorney Carlyle Sherrill.
Aug. 5, 2013: The Rowan Sheriff’s Office issues a missing/endangered persons alert for Erica.
Aug. 9, 2013: The Parsonses have agreed to appear on the Dr. Phil Show.
Source: Salisbury Post
Casey and Sandy Parsons told the press that despite accusations from police, they have done nothing wrong.
‘[Police said] we had killed Erica and buried her in our backyard,’ Casey Parsons said. ‘We told them 'Go do what you want to the house. Look. Go dig the yard up. Erica is not in this yard. Erica is fine.'
According to the couple, they believed that their adopted daughter has been living with her biological grandmother, Irene Goodman, since December 2011, when the girl traveled to Asheville to visit her for Christmas.
However, police and Erica's birth mother, Carolyn Parsons, said that the teen's paternal grandmother has died.
Despite Casey and Sandy Parsons' protestations that they have never hurt Erica, the Department of Social Services has removed their two other children from their home and launched an investigation of its own.
According to DSS documents obtained by Channel 9, at least one person had been concerned that Erica was being abused as a child.
The report stated that when Erica was 4 years old, she was observed with ‘four marks on her rear end, a long one down the back of her leg and a couple on the side of her face.'
According to a woman involved in the case, the little girl was perpetually punished by her adoptive parents. The person who raised the alarm about Erica's treatment told DSS at the time that Casey Parsons even carried ‘a belt’ and used it to whip the girl.
However, a DSS investigation into the allegations of abuse has yielded no evidence. According to a report summing up the investigation, ‘no signs of cuts, contusions, or scratches’ have been found, and Erica showed ‘no signs of fear with either of the parents going up and sitting on each of their laps without being asked.’
The person who reported the abuse, however, insisted that Erica was very submissive and would do whatever she was told out of fear of being punished.
The Parsonses' lawyer told ABCNews.com that around November 2011, Case and Sandy Parsons got a call from Erica's birth mother, who said she wanted her daughter to come stay with her and another relative in the Asheville area for a while.
Erica has been missing since November 19, 2011. On July 30, nearly two years later, her older brother, James Parsons, reported her missing.
He told authorities that when he asked about his sister previously, his parents said she had left and moved in with other relatives, the Salisbury Post said.
Last sighting: Erica has been missing since November 19, 2011, when she left her adoptive parents' home on Miller Chapel Road in Salisbury
Claims of innocence: Casey and Sandy Parsons gave an interview to local media in which they insisted that they have done nothing to harm Erica, and that they believed she has been living with her grandmother
The 19-year-old said he fears that something may have happened to Erica and his parents are not telling him.
to Sherrill, James Parsons called police after being forced to move out
of his parents’ house as punishment for assaulting his mother with a
baseball bat in June.
Casey and Sandy Parsons described
their son as an emotionally disturbed young man who is bi-polar,
suicidal and at times violent.
In February 2010, James was charged with assaulting his then-3-year-old brother, Toby, by biting the toddler on the arm.
summer, James was charged with assaulting his mother, who had just
undergone surgery, his sister and brother, and also choking the sister’s
According to the
arrest warrant, the teen pulled his mother’s gastrointestinal bag tube,
causing it to bleed, and kicking the woman while she was on the floor.
James also allegedly threated his baby bother with a knife and grabbed
his sister, Brooke, by the throat.
The charges against James Parsons were later dropped because his mother failed to appear on court.
Vendetta: The parents accused their son, James, of filing the missing persons report just to get back at them for forcing him out of the house after he had attacked his mother
Worst fears: The girl's adoptive grandparents, Janet and Steven Parsons, are afraid that something happened to Erica, and their son, Erica's father, and his wife are not telling them the truth
always told me he was going to get me. I never thought he’d do this,’
Casey Parsons said, implying that her son filed the missing person’s
report to get back at her.
year, authorities said Casey Parsons reported her daughter Brooke
missing, but the child was later found and returned home.
When the Parsonses, who adopted the girl when she was just 2 weeks old, tried to contact Erica's family in Asheville, they could not be found.
The parents have agreed to speak out about their adopted daughter next Monday on the Dr. Phil talk show, hoping it will help investigators find Erica.
Relatives told Channel 9 the girl has had a life filled with pain and fear. According to one family member, Erica could not speak to or look at anyone because she was always being punished and abused.
Erica Parsons is described as 4 feet 5 and weighing between 85 and 90lbs. She has brown hair and brown eyes and appears small for her age.
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