Funds needed for Erica Parsons memorial; planning underway for service, burial

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 6, 2016

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — Funeral plans continue to be arranged for Erica Lynn Parsons, whose skeletal remains were found over a week ago in South Carolina. The teenager hadn’t been seen locally since 2011, but was reported missing three years ago.

Lyerly Funeral Home & Cremation Services in Salisbury has donated its services including a casket. Calls to Brent Lyerly, owner of Lyerly Funeral Home, were not returned.

West Lawn Memorial Park in China Grove has given a plot, a vault and burial services. Cemetery Manager Faye Creech said they contacted their corporate office, Stonemor, in Pennsylvania, and the space was approved.

Creech said Granite Bronze, the Georgia company they work with, is donating a 28-by-14 granite headstone. The headstone will have a bronzed portrait of Erica on the marker. There are plans to also have a granite bench with an angel sitting on it. The bench will have a black panel with Erica’s name engraved on it. The bench is expected to cost around $5,000.

West Lawn is coordinating with Lyerly Funeral Home and Prevent Child Abuse Rowan, which has been collecting money from anyone who would like to contribute to pay for the cost of the memorial bench.

“We are doing this for Erica so she can have a proper burial,” Creech said.

Creech said an average funeral can cost around $10,000, but the cost could be higher.

Prevent Child Abuse Rowan officials say they’ve collected over $800 and will continue to provide regular updates on the agency’s Facebook page.

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

Any additional money will be used for a memorial placed at the Children’s Advocacy Center and future prevention programming, to work to “prevent cases from happening in the future.”

Many in the community have been gripped by this story since the beginning when Erica was reported missing in July 2013. Her adoptive brother Jamie Parsons reported to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office that he had not seen Erica for two years.

Rowan investigators began looking into the girl’s disappearance, but got little cooperation from her adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons. Investigators searched several properties including the couple’s former Miller Chapel Road home and parents’ homes.

Sandy and Casey Parsons have not been charged in Erica’s death, but have been convicted on fraud charges related to them receiving government benefits for her care when she was no longer living in their home. Both are serving sentences at federal prisons.

The couple maintained they sent Erica to live with her biological grandmother, a woman they knew as Irene Goodman. Goodman, they told Rowan detectives, lived on a horse farm in Asheville. Investigators said they quickly determined that none of the information the couple had been giving them was true.

Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten said at a news conference this week that investigators eventually began treating the case as a death investigation. It wasn’t until a month ago, however, that authorities received information confirming that Erica was in fact dead.

Sandy Parsons led investigators to a shallow grave in a remote area of Pageland, S.C. in Chesterfield County. That’s where they found Erica’s remains.

Prevent Child Abuse Rowan is located at 130 Woodson St.

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