Erica Parsons’ adoptive mother Casey brought to Rowan County to face murder charges
SALISBURY — Casey Parsons was brought to the Rowan County jail Tuesday afternoon to face first-degree murder, abuse and obstruction charges in the death of her 13-year-old adopted daughter, Erica Lynn Parsons.
Parsons, who was brought in by Rowan County Sheriff’s Office Detective Chad Moose and members of the SBI, was flown here from the Florida federal prison where she has been held since 2016, a year after she was found guilty of federal fraud charges.
Investigators took Parsons, 43, through a less used entrance to the jail, and a local magistrate served her arrest warrant. She was held without bond.
Casey and her husband, Sandy, face charges of first-degree murder, obstruction of justice, concealment of a death and child abuse inflicting serious injuries, all of which are felonies. Sandy Parsons remains in a federal prison in Michigan.
Casey Parsons is expected to have a first appearance in Rowan County Superior Court this morning.
The couple were thrust into the spotlight after their biological son, James “Jamie” Parsons, reported Erica missing in July 2013. He told Rowan County authorities that he had not seen his sister since November 2011.
What began as a missing-persons report launched an investigation that would capture national attention and uncover allegations of severe abuse of Erica by the entire immediate Parsons family.
In February 2015, Jamie Parsons in federal court described horrible living conditions and the abuse that Erica endured by both of his parents, his siblings and himself. Jamie and other family members said the couple encouraged their children to abuse Erica, including the youngest children.
According to his testimony, Erica was punched, her fingers were broken, and she was once left at home while the family went on a beach vacation. She was malnourished and was kept locked in a bedroom closet, and she was punished if she used the bathroom inside it.
Sandy and Casey Parsons told detectives they sent Erica to live with her biological grandmother, Irene Goodman, a woman they knew as Nan. Erica’s paternal family, the Goodmans have said Erica’s biological grandmother, Cloie Goodman, died in 2005, much earlier than the Parsonses’ story about sending Erica to meet her grandmother in 2011.
Rowan County sheriff’s investigators have said Irene Goodman did not exist.
Casey Parsons told a Post reporter in August 2013 that she and her husband let Erica visit Goodman at her Asheville home until, eventually, the “rebellious teen” didn’t want to return, so they let her stay.
The Parsonses maintained their story, later proven to be false by investigators, that Erica was alive and living with her paternal grandmother.
Over the past several years, Rowan investigators, along with agents from the FBI and SBI, searched different locations where the couple had lived — including their 218 Miller Chapel Road home in Salisbury and Sandy Parsons’ father and stepmother’s home in China Grove.
In February 2016, Sandy Parsons sought out Detective Moose and told him that Erica was dead. He told the detective that Erica’s body was disposed of on Dec. 18, 2011. Law enforcement officials maintain that no plea deal was made for that information.
Sandy Parsons led detectives about 80 miles from Salisbury to land near his mother’s house in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. The property is not owned by Parsons’ mother, the search warrant said.
On Sept. 27, 2016, after the Rowan County District Attorney’s Office helped investigators obtain his temporary release from federal custody, Sandy Parsons led Rowan County investigators to a rural area just outside Pageland, South Carolina.
On Sept. 30, 2016, the N.C. Medical Examiner’s Office positively identified the bones as Erica’s remains. It would be Jan. 9 this year before an autopsy report would be released. The medical examiner determined that Erica died of homicidal violence of undetermined means.
“Given the history of physical abuse, and signs of physical abuse present at autopsy, we cannot exclude the possibility of a terminal blunt force injury, suffocation or strangulation,” a medical examiner wrote in the report.
The autopsy also revealed Erica had low bone density for her age and a pronounced growth deficit and was malnourished. She also had signs of spina bifida occulta, a mild form of a birth defect in which the spine has not formed properly.
Examiners found fractures in various stages of healing in her nose, jaw, upper right arm, scapulae (the bone connecting the upper arm and collarbone), a finger, seven ribs (some broken more than once) and left shinbone.
At least one tooth was missing, and others showed signs of being broken, the report said.
Erica may have been suffering from an untreated infection or sepsis, renal failure, poisoning or rhabdomyolysis (a breakdown of muscle that releases a damaging protein into the blood), the autopsy report said.
In September 2015, Casey Parsons pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, five counts of mail fraud, five counts of aiding in the preparation of a false tax return, four counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity theft.
In October 2015, a jury found Sandy Parsons guilty of 43 of the original 76-count federal charges. The charges include one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of false statement to a government agency, 20 counts of theft of government funds, and 20 counts of mail fraud.
Testimony during the federal hearing revealed Casey was trying to avoid the IRS garnishing any money she would have received if Erica was listed on her tax returns because she had defaulted on a student loan. More children listed on her return would have meant less money.
Casey Parsons prepared all of the family’s tax returns, including those for eldest son, Sandy Jr., who she allowed to claim the two youngest children as dependents even though they were not in his household. She received some of the tax-refund money from Sandy Jr.
Casey Parsons also claimed to be a first-time homebuyer in order to seek money from the government. She claimed she had bought an $80,000 home when she had not.
The Parsonses also had an eBay account on which they listed items for sale. The couple collected money but never sent the items to the people who paid for them. Bank statements showed twice in August 2011 that Sandy Parsons took thousands of dollars from a SunTrust account the couple shared.
Casey Parsons was paid to become a surrogate for a Michigan couple she met through a surrogacy website. Casey Parsons later lied after she planned to keep the unborn baby. She told the couple the baby died.
Casey stopped all contact with the couple, who had to get law enforcement involved. Casey’s sister, Robin Ashley, contacted the wife and told her that her sister had lied and the baby was alive. The couple were there when the baby was born and returned to Michigan with the baby.
Erica Parsons would have turned 20 on Feb. 24.
Contact reporter Shavonne Walker at 704-797-4253.
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