Hearing: More difficult for Parsons to win custody of youngest children

Sandy, left, and Casey Parsons leave the Federal Courthouse in Winston-Salem on July 30, 2014.
Sandy, left, and Casey Parsons leave the Federal Courthouse in Winston-Salem on July 30, 2014. rlahser@charlotteobserver.com

Casey and Sandy Parsons, the adoptive parents of missing Rowan County teenager Erica Parsons, were in court in Salisbury on Thursday for a review that could help determine the custody of the couple's two youngest children, and when it was over they learned that it will now be more difficult for them to be reunited.

Sadie Parsons, 10, and Toby Parsons, 8, were removed from the home when the investigation into the disappearance of Erica Parsons began in August of 2013.

In court on Thursday there was a change in the custody plan, removing the option of reunification.

According to the North Carolina DHHS web site, reunification means the biological parents can petition the court to regain custody of the children.

After today, the plan for the Parsons removes that option and instead moved to a plan of guardianship, with the possibility that full legal custody could be awarded to other family members.

The judge set another review to take place in 90 days, unless other court actions overrule the need for such a hearing.

Erica Parsons was reported missing in late July of 2013 by her adoptive brother, but had not actually been seen for more than a year before the report was filed.

Casey and Sandy Parsons maintain that they delivered Erica to a grandmother named "Nan" who lived in the Asheville area.

Local law enforcement and the FBI have repeatedly said that Casey and Sandy Parsons are lying about what happened to Erica and that Nan does not exist.

Last month Casey and Sandy Parsons were charged by federal investigators for taking thousands of dollars in federal adoption assistance money long after Erica was gone from their home. A trial date of October 14 has been set for that case.

At present, Sadie and Toby are in the custody of other family members. Casey and Sandy, who have moved to Fayetteville, are allowed supervised visits with the children, but have repeatedly said that they want their children living with them.

Anyone with information on the disappearance and whereabouts of Erica Parsons is asked to contact the Rowan Sheriff's Office at 704-216-8700, or the FBI Charlotte office at 704-672-6100. A reward of $50,000 is now being offered for information.