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Erica’s adoptive mother: ‘Erica is alive’

By Cleve R. Wootson Jr.
cwootson@charlotteobserver.com
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/23/14/46/kYYMg.Em.138.jpg|266
    - Shavonne Potts/Salisbury Post
    FILE - Sandy and Casey Parsons speak to reporters about their adoptive daughter, Erica, who has been missing for nearly two years. The couple said they believe Erica is with her paternal grandmother in Asheville and that she is OK. Shavonne Potts/Salisbury Post
  • http://media.charlotteobserver.com/smedia/2014/07/13/17/21/1kQvcw.Em.138.jpeg|401
    - NATIONAL CENTER FOR MISSING AND EXPLOITED CHILDREN
    An age-progression photo shows how Erica Parsons likely looks today.

As the investigation into the disappearance of missing teen Erica Parsons approaches the one-year mark, Casey Parsons told WBTV in a recent interview that she believes her adopted daughter is still alive.

“Erica is alive. She is very much alive,” Casey Parsons told the news station in an interview aired Tuesday night. “Do I think Erica is going to be back? I sure do. When? I hope very soon. I pray that every night.”

No one has been charged in connection with Erica’s disappearance.

Erica, who was adopted as a baby, was reported missing July 30, 2013, although she hadn’t been seen by anyone outside her family for nearly two years. The search for her by Rowan County, state and federal authorities cast suspicion on her adoptive parents, Casey and Sandy Parsons. Investigators suspect foul play and say Erica was likely abused.

Carolyn Parsons, who used to be related to Sandy Parsons through marriage, still questions whether police are doing enough to figure out what happened.

“This is probably one of the biggest cases in this field that Rowan County has ever had,” she told the Observer in an interview last week. “I don’t think (investigators) know what they’re doing.”

In a statement, the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said investigators are working with the FBI and SBI to find Erica. “Work by all of the law enforcement partners continues on this case at many different levels,” the statement said.

Erica was reported missing by her adoptive brother last July following his fight with the Parsonses.

Casey and Sandy Parsons initially said they’d sent Erica to live with a woman named Irene “Nan” Goodman, who they claimed was Erica’s biological grandmother. The couple said Nan had contacted Casey Parsons on Facebook and ultimately invited Erica to stay with her.

Later, they backtracked on that story, saying they were swindled, says their attorney, Carlyle Sherrill.

The developments unfolded on national television. The Parsonses went on the “Dr. Phil” show, claiming their innocence. During a lie detector test, an expert said Sandy Parsons was “deceptive” about Erica’s disappearance.

Casey Parsons did not take the polygraph exam because she described herself as being in severe pain, and the show’s polygraph expert said he opted not to give her the test because the body’s response to pain can be confused with deception.

Investigators have said they’ve found no evidence Goodman ever existed. They have searched the Parsonses’ home outside Salisbury and the property of Sandy Parsons’ father in China Grove, where the Parsonses kept a storage shed.

“We’d do lineups and look over people. It was a lot centered on even – like sex trafficking. Erica could be a victim of that,” Casey Parsons says detectives told them.

Casey Parsons told WBTV that she and her husband felt investigators’ focus was squarely on them.

“Some of the days when they would visit and talk and it would be centered around to us completely – that we’re the ones that was completely responsible for Erica’s disappearance. That we lied. We did this,” she said.

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