At candlelight vigil, many say they don’t believe adoptive parents’ stories about missing teen

Family and friends gather for a candleight vigil Friday August 23, 2013 outside the home of missing 15-year-old Erica Parsons.  Parsons has been missing for almost two years.  Photo Credit:  Sean Meyers/Salisbury Post
Family and friends gather for a candleight vigil Friday August 23, 2013 outside the home of missing 15-year-old Erica Parsons. Parsons has been missing for almost two years. Photo Credit: Sean Meyers/Salisbury Post

Family members of missing teen Erica Parsons say they don’t believe her adoptive parents’ stories of the girl being with a grandmother. And many say they just want the truth.

Erica, 15, has been missing since November 2011. Her adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons, maintain they let Erica stay with her biological grandmother Irene “Nan” Goodman.

More than 100 people attended a Friday night candlelight vigil organized by two groups as a way for the community to pray and show their support.

Scott Parsons, Sandy Parsons’ younger brother, was among those who attended the vigil. He went with James, Erica’s adoptive brother, to speak with law enforcement on July 30.

Other family members attended the ceremony, including Erica’s biological mother, Carolyn Parsons, and the family of Billy Goodman, the biological father.

Casey and Sandy Parsons were not at home during the vigil.

Family members

Scott Parsons thanked everyone for gathering to support his family. He said he didn’t believe his brother and sister-in-law. He said he knows their dad, William Parsons, has chosen to back Sandy, but he could not.

“Even my brother who sits up in that house and denies everything, he needs to come out with the truth,” Scott said.

Supporters shouted, “amen” in agreement.

“I’m not behind him. Some of my family members are, but I’m not going to be ’cause this little girl needs a voice. This community is the voice,” he said.

Scott said he prays Erica is out there.

He said he felt as though something needed to be done. He said it wasn’t about him or anyone else, but about Erica.

“He sits up in here like this. I thank y’all. Let’s run him out and I will too,” Scott said.

“Let’s drag him out,” someone shouted.

“The truth’s going to come out. Sooner or later, the truth’s going to come out,” Scott said.

Scott said he didn’t witness any abuse, but there were things he heard.

Family members have told authorities they witnessed Casey beat Erica and said the teen always seemed to be punished.

Casey and Sandy have denied abuse allegations and have said they let the teen with her grandmother.

“There’s a lot of things I can’t talk about, but we’ve got to find Erica,” Scott said as he was surrounded by media and supporters.

He said Sandy and Casey have lied. He has not seen or heard from Erica in two years. He said when he tried to talk with his brother, Sandy was evasive.

“He told me she’s with her grandmother,” Scott said.

“Grandma Nan. There’s no grandma. It’s been proven. I’ve never heard of grandma Nan,” Scott said.

“Where do you think Erica is?” a reporter asked.

Scott shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know,” he said. “If I thought I knew where she was, we’d be driving to try to find her.

“I want answers. That’s what I want. Just like everybody else does. We want answers for Erica,” Scott said.

While Scott spoke, others could be heard shouting, “Bring Erica home.”

Casey and Sandy have said Erica chose to continue staying with her grandmother in Asheville. They said she went to visit the woman on a few occasions and on the third trip, she wanted to stay.

The couple’s two youngest children, Sadie and Toby, were removed from the home by the Rowan Department of Social Services two days after the parents were questioned by law enforcement.

Seeking the truth

Members of Billy Goodman’s family — including his sister, Teresa, and brother, Ray Goodman — were in attendance. Teresa’s husband, Tony, and their daughter, Christina, were also there. The Goodmans all said Casey and Sandy Parsons were not being truthful.

“There is no Nan. There is no Irene Goodman. There never was in our family. My mother died in 2005,” said Teresa Goodman.

Teresa’s daughter, Christina Goodman, held up a picture of a woman she said was Erica’s real paternal grandmother, Chloe.

Christina said Kelly, who the Parsonses have said was Erica’s half-sister, does exist. She also said Kelly does not have daughter, but two sons.

Casey Parsons told the Post when she dropped Erica off with Nan that Kelly was there with her daughter and so was Billy Goodman’s girlfriend, nicknamed Strawberry.

When asked what the Goodmans thought of everything Sandy and Casey Parsons have said, Teresa said it was all lies.

“It’s all bull. She’s nothing but a liar. She needs to tell the truth. She needs to tell what happened to this little girl. We want to know. We deserve to know,” Teresa said.

Carolyn Parsons, Erica’s biological mother, also attended the vigil. She held onto a single purple rose and thanked the community for its support.

When asked what she wanted to say to Erica, Carolyn stood still, her hands trembling. A woman with Carolyn pulled her away and she said very little after that encounter.

Teresa Goodman approached Carolyn, saying even though they didn’t know each other, she wanted to reach out to her. Ray Goodman, Teresa and Billy’s brother, also approached Carolyn.

Community support

Two groups separately worked on the idea of having a candlelight vigil. The two groups later combined to include a time of prayer, singing and offers of support to the family.

Amber Springer and friend Christi Ross spoke with neighbors ahead of time to see if the community could gather in the area.

“We want justice. We want to pray for Erica. We just thought it would be good as a community,” Springer said.

It was Ross who came up with the idea to have the ceremony in front of the Parsonses’ home. The vigil was actually in a neighbor’s yard.

“This was such a dark place for Erica, we were trying to bring light for Erica,” Springer said.

Crystal Pope, another organizer, had wanted to do a vigil. So she gathered supporters who marched down Miller Chapel Road holding balloons, posters and flyers she’d created. Some people wore T-shirts with Erica’s picture on the front. The picture was the same age-progressed photo released by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. The photo shows what a 15-year-old Erica might look like. The photo was released on Wednesday and was created using pictures of her biological parents.

Pope has been hanging posters and purple ribbons throughout town.

Pope told the Post she wanted people to put up purple ribbons of their own to honor Erica and to leave them up until the teen returned.

Kim Huffman, who lives behind the Parsonses, said this has stirred the neighborhood.

“It really woke us up more than anything. You don’t think in your mind this would happen,” she said.

She has children who are 12 and 16 and says this hits too close to home.

As a mother, Huffman said, she didn’t see how any parent could go two years without wondering where their child was.

Huffman said she hopes the Parsonses’ “conscience will get the best of them.”

Matt Goodnight said he attended partly out of anger and sadness.

“Being the parent that I am, it’s frightening that a parent shows no remorse,” he said.

Goodnight brought his 9-year-old son, Maddox.

He said they watched the “Dr. Phil” show featuring the Parsonses and their attorney Carlyle Sherrill.

Many in the community think the idea to go on the show backfired.

Sherrill has declined all interviews from the media since the show and has instructed his clients to not comment as well.

Sandy failed a lie detector test given by a polygraph expert.

Goodnight said he believed going on the talk show was “a bad move.”

Goodnight said he sat down with his son to explain what’s been happening surrounding Erica’s disappearance.

“As a parent, if you’re under my roof, you’re my responsibility,” Goodnight said.

Clara Beaver lives just a short distance on Bernhardt Road, but does not know the Parsonses.

Beaver said as a stepmother to eight, grandmother of 18 and great-grandmother of 10, it would be “unbelievable” to not know where her children and grandchildren were.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office has issued a $10,000 reward that leads to the location or return of Erica. Dr. Phil McGraw offered a $5,000 reward.

Anyone with information about Erica Lynn Parsons’ whereabouts is asked to contact Lt. Chad Moose at 704-216-8687 or investigator Clint Mauldin at 704-216-8710.

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