Crime & Courts

Adoptive mom of NC girl who was tortured, starved and killed pleads guilty to murder

Nearly six years after North Carolina teenager Erica Parsons was reported missing, her adoptive mother pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and other offenses in connection with Erica’s torture and killing, prosecutors said Friday.

Casey Parsons was sentenced to life in prison after also pleading guilty to child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury, concealment of a death and obstruction of justice in Rowan County Superior Court, Observer news partner WBTV reported.

Her husband, Sandy Parsons, remained in the Rowan County jail on Friday pending trial on the same charges, jail records show.

Erica’s adoptive brother, Jamie Parsons, reported her missing from the family’s home on Miller Chapel Road in July 2013. Erica, whose short, tortuous life gained national headlines, had last been seen alive in 2011, when she was 12 or 13, the Observer previously reported.

In 2016, Sandy Parsons led authorities to Erica’s body in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. An autopsy showed she had broken bones all over her body, the Observer reported at the time.

Several family members reported that Erica endured longstanding physical and emotional abuse by her adoptive parents, according to an investigation report by the North Carolina Medical Examiner’s Office.

Family members described beatings with a belt buckle that broke Erica’s skin, episodes of her being choked and thrown to the ground, her hand being slammed in a door and repeated episodes of Erica’s fingers being bent all the way back, according to the report. Erica, whose tooth was knocked out in one incident, was forced to sleep in a closet and eat dog food, according to the report.

Erica’s bones showed she was malnourished, the autopsy found.

Her adoptive parents were sentenced to years in prison after being convicted in 2015 of financial crimes that included cashing adoption assistance checks totaling more than $12,000 after Erica’s disappearance.

Related stories from Charlotte Observer