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Donor gives $5,000 for Erica Parsons memorial bench; donations still being accepted

By Shavonne Walker
shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Thanks to a person’s generous donation, a memorial bench for Erica Lynn Parsons can be a reality. A Charlotte resident donated $5,000 on Wednesday, confirmed Prevent Child Abuse Rowan Executive Director Beth McKeithan.

The nonprofit organization has been collecting money for the memorial bench. All other services for her funeral and burial have been donated.

McKeithan said Thursday the man said he wanted to make a contribution and gave the entire amount needed for the memorial. She said even though the donor gave the generous amount, it doesn’t mean donations have to stop.

Any excess money will be used to support prevention programs and to create a way to honor Erica at the center. McKeithan said one idea that has been mentioned is a playground.

“The more awareness created, the more cases we can prevent,” she said.

Prevention programs include speaking to first- and fifth-grade students about body safety. Many children don’t know or understand they can report physical or sexual abuse, McKeithan said.

In 2015, Prevent Child Abuse Rowan handled 244 abuse cases and this year so far have handled 181. Prevent Child Abuse Rowan and the Terrie Hess House child advocacy center focuses its care on Rowan County victims.

McKeithan said they’ve had a 30 percent increase in caseload in the last three years.

Lyerly Funeral Home & Cremation Services is handling the funeral, including providing a casket. West Lawn Memorial Park in China Grove has given a plot, a vault and burial services. The headstone will have a bronzed portrait of Erica on the marker. The granite bench will have an angel sitting on it. The bench will have a black panel with Erica’s name engraved on it.

Donations can be made through the nonprofit’s website, www.preventchildabuserowan.org or by cash or check. All contributions should be earmarked for Erica’s memorial fund. All donations are tax deductible.

Erica Parsons’ story was first brought to light in 2013 when her adoptive brother, Jamie Parsons, reported to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office he had not seen his sister in two years. Investigators quickly began talking with the child’s adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons.

The Parsonses soon became uncooperative with investigators, who determined the couple were being dishonest about the girl’s whereabouts.

The two said Erica had met and wanted to live with her biological grandmother, Irene Goodman. Investigators quickly discovered Goodman did not exist.

The Parsonses have since been convicted of fraud for continuing to accept benefits for Erica’s care after she was no longer living in their home. Both are serving sentences in federal prison.

Sandy Parsons, Erica’s adoptive father, led investigators in September to a shallow grave in rural South Carolina, where her remains were unearthed.

Prevent Child Abuse Rowan is located at 130 Woodson Street.

For more information about how to make a donation to Prevent Child Abuse Rowan in Erica Parsons’ memory, call 704-639-1700.

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