Casey and Sandy Parsons, the adoptive parents of missing teen Erica Parsons, are to appear in federal court Wednesday morning for sentencing on fraud charges for collecting government benefits long after the girl vanished.
Wednesday’s action is yet another wrinkle in the strange case that has drawn national attention to the disappearance of the daughter more than a year before she was reported missing.
Sandy Parsons, her adoptive father, was found guilty in November of federal fraud charges; his wife Casey Parsons admitted in court earlier that she continued to collect government benefits after the girl disappeared, including monthly checks of $634 for adoption assistance.
Neither case shed any light about the disappearance of Erica, who was 13 in 2011 when last seen and would be 17 now.
She was reported missing July 30, 2013, when her adoptive brother went to authorities after a fight with the Parsons and said no one had seen Erica for 20 months. Both Parsons have said she went to live with her biological grandmother, Irene “Nan” Goodman, whom they met at a Mooresville fast-food restaurant, although they later said they may have been deceived.
Investigators say Goodman doesn’t exist.
A year after the missing person report was filed, FBI and Internal Revenue Service agents arrested the couple at their home in Fayetteville, where they had moved from a rural area outside Salisbury to avoid intense public scrutiny.
In addition to the monthly checks, the charges say the Parsons also received federal and state funds for Medicaid, Social Security, and food and nutrition for Erica, who was home-schooled and had hearing problems and a learning disability, according to the July indictment.
During his federal trial on fraud charges, Sandy Parsons testified that he never saw any of the documents that were presented by the government in the case against him. Sandy Parsons said his wife, Casey, handled anything that needed to be signed, such as tax documents, and when he was asked to sign them, he would.
“I ain’t never filed a tax – Casey fills them out,” he said in his defense. “Casey said ‘sign this,’ so I signed it. ... That’s why I got Casey. She takes care of me.”
Despite national publicity and continued investigations by the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement agencies, no trace of Erica has been discovered.
If sentenced to the maximum, both Parsons faced decades of prison time and millions of dollars in fines. Staff writers Cleve R. Wootson Jr. and Elisabeth Arriero and staff researcher Maria David contributed.