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Child-custody hearing for Erica Parsons’ family ends

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com

SALISBURY A child-custody hearing took place behind closed doors Thursday for the family of missing teen Erica Parsons. No one would talk about what happened in the courtroom.

Casey and Sandy Parsons, Erica’s adoptive parents, had been summoned to court in connection with an allegation that two juveniles in their family had been abused or neglected.

The Parsonses left the Rowan courthouse around 4:20 p.m. without their two youngest children. The Parsonses have said the children were taken away from them shortly after Erica was reported missing July 30.

Casey and Sandy Parsons declined to comment as they left the courthouse. Their attorneys also refused to talk with reporters.

Earlier in the day, a Rowan County judge closed the hearing. When petitioning the judge to close the courtroom, a Department of Social Services official said since there is an ongoing criminal investigation into Erica’s disappearance, opening the courtroom could compromise the investigation.

“This is not just about Erica. This is about the other children who may not be in the media spotlight,” Judge Beth Dixon said in explaining her decision to close the hearing.

The judge would not hear a request from an Observer reporter to allow the hearing to be open to the public.

Before Erica was last reported seen in 2011, family members had suspected the girl was being abused, according to search warrants released last week.

William Parsons, Sandy Parsons’ father, said Thursday that he hopes that the Parsonses’ children go back to live with Casey and Sandy.

On Wednesday, investigators returned a search warrant in connection with a shed on William Parsons’ property in China Grove. William Parsons said the shed belonged to Casey and Sandy Parsons and that only they had access. Investigators retrieved vacuum pieces including a filter, a hammer, school records and teeth.

Erica Parsons’ disappearance gained national attention this week when Casey and Sandy Parsons appeared on the “Dr. Phil” show.

Sandy Parsons was “strongly deceptive” to questions on “Dr. Phil” about whether he deliberately caused Erica’s disappearance, a polygraph expert said on the show.

The expert, Jack Trimarco, said he asked Sandy Parsons, two questions: Did he deliberately cause Erica’s disappearance and did he have a plan to cause her disappearance?

Trimarco told Dr. Phil he fully explained the meaning of the questions to Parsons, and he understood them.

“He was what I consider strongly deceptive to both relevant questions,” Trimarco told the host, Dr. Phil McGraw.

Wootson: 704-358-5046; Twitter: @CleveWootson
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