It has been three weeks since investigators started searching for a missing teen from Salisbury and the question remains – Where is Erica Parsons?
Investigators with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office and FBI are still looking into the whereabouts of the adopted teen.
Deputies say 15-year-old Erica Parsons was reported missing on July 30 to the Sheriff’s Office.
She was reportedly last seen on November 19, 2011 at a home along the 200-block of Miller Chapel Road, in Salisbury, when she was 13-years-old.
WBTV has asked investigators several questions, including if they were looking at reports of unidentified bodies that had been found within the last two years, and if both of Erica’s birth parents had been interviewed.
The reply was simply “we are looking at all possibilities.”
WBTV also investigated the claim made by Erica’s adoptive parents that Erica had been home schooled while she lived with them. On a state web site there is indeed a listing for a registered home school named “Parson’s Christian School,” with the administrator listed as Casey Parsons.
A week after authorities notified the media about Erica, a detective with the National Center For Missing and Exploited Children spoke to WBTV.
“It’s just an unusual case that we don’t often see. The delay in the reporting is something that we don’t see very often like this so we’re very concerned about this child’s welfare,” said Robert G. Lowery Jr.
Now, three weeks after The Sheriff’s Office went public with Erica’s missing person’s case, her flyer is on the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
Lowery says artists are working on an age progression photo of Erica. He says they expect to post the photo – which will estimate what Erica looks like now at age 15 – on their web site this week.
Casey and Sandy Parsons, Erica’s adoptive parents, sat down with WBTV’s Coleen Harry nearly a week after she was reported missing. The Parsons made a plea for Erica to get in touch with them.
When asked if she believes Erica is okay, Casey Parsons said “yes I believe she’s okay. I think she’s scared to call home and say I’m alright. I think they’re telling her she’s going to get in trouble.”
James Parsons told investigators that his parents said Erica went to stay with other family members, when he asked where she was. He contacted police about Erica last week after recently moving out of his parents’ home.
The Parson say they believe their son filed the missing person’s report to get even with them. Casey Parsons says she threw her son out the house because he allegedly hit her.
Deputies say Erica’s adoptive parents initially talked with investigators, but became “increasingly uncooperative.” The FBI joined in the search for Erica on Wednesday. The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office says investigators are also working the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
The Parsons told WBTV they wanted to get their side of the story out, saying “it has been very difficult.”
“It’s hard,” Casey Parsons told WBTV. “It’s a nightmare – worst thing you can think of.”
Casey and Sandy Parsons say they didn’t do anything wrong. They say when Erica went for a three-week Christmas visit with her paternal grandmother – they believed she would be fine.
They say when Erica called two months later to say she was wasn’t coming back – they accepted it.
WBTV also spoke with Erica’s biological mother, Carolyn Parsons. Carolyn is a relative of Sandy and Casey Parsons.
“This is my kid. Imagine if it was you. How would you feel? I feel like I’m in somebody’s nightmare and they will not wake up and let me out,” she said.
The Parsons’ attorney, Carlyle Sherrill, told WBTV that his clients were contacted by Erica’s birth mother in 2011. She introduced the family to a relative who lived in the Asheville area.
Sherrill says the Parsons let Erica visit her grandmother three times and after the third visit Erica never came back home.
“In February 2012, they received a phone call from her and she let them know in no uncertain terms she didn’t want to come back,” Sherrill told WBTV. “This is a rebellious teenager who seemed to be safe, seemed to be where she wants to be.”
Sherrill says the couple didn’t report Erica missing because they thought she just decided not to come back.
Erica’s biological mother disputes Sherill’s claim arguing that both of Erica’s grandmothers have been dead for at least five years. WBTV contacted Asheville Police for comment.
“We have been in communication with the folks in Rowan County and the authorities there have not instructed us or asked us to do anything with regards to this case,” said Sgt. Dave Romick with APD.
The Parsons say when Erica’s brother, James, went to investigators and said something was wrong, detectives showed up at their house.
“[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. She’s with Nan – she’s with her grandmother’.”
Investigators say they have not found Erica. So police say the investigation is continuing and the Department of Social Services is now involved.
The Parsons say social workers took their two youngest children.
“We had done nothing wrong to these kids or Erica. Nothing,” Casey Parsons said. “Even the social worker wrote on the paper we had nothing, there was nothing wrong with us to put our kids in danger.”
“She was teenager. She was with her grandparent – completely safe, having fun, and just loving her life,” Casey Parsons said. “She loves Nan. I met Nan. I talked to Nan. Nan is a very good lady.”
Police and Erica’s birth mother say Nan – Erica’s paternal grandmother – is dead.
The Parsons say they cooperated with police. The sheriff’s office says detectives checked out the information the Parsons gave them – police say the information didn’t pan out.
The couple say they then called an attorney because they started to feel like investigators suspected they had hurt Erica.
Erica is believed to be just over four-feet tall and is known to be small for her age. She had brown hair and brown eyes with fair skin.
If you have information about Erica Lynn Parsons, you are asked to call the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office at 704-216-8700.
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