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Erica Parsons’ adoptive father headed to court Dec. 17

By Shavonne Walker

shavonne.walker@salisburypost.com

SALISBURY — Sandy Parsons, the adoptive father of Erica Parsons, will appear in court Dec. 17, Rowan District Attorney Brandy Cook confirmed Thursday.

Parsons, 46, and his wife, Casey, were charged last year with murder in Erica’s death, as well as child abuse and concealment of her death.

Though Sandy Parsons is expected in court later this month, his trial date remains on the calendar for April. Cook said beyond confirming a court appearance, she could not comment further on the case.

Sandy Parsons remains in the Rowan County Detention Center without bond while he is serving a seven-year federal prison sentence for mail fraud, tax fraud and identity theft.

Casey Parsons, 44, pleaded guilty in August to first-degree murder and related charges in the 13-year-old girl’s death. She will spend the rest of her life in prison without the chance of parole.

The sentences on the related charges, totaling 23 years, will be served at the expiration of her current federal sentence. And she is already serving a 10-year federal prison sentence on charges of mail fraud, tax fraud and identity theft.

It’s been more than six years since the couple’s son, Jamie Parsons, gave a horrific account of how his parents abused Erica Parsons and that he and his younger siblings — Brooklyn, Sadie and Toby Parsons — abused her as well. Jamie Parsons told Rowan County Sheriff’s Office detectives about a series of disturbing incidents of abuse that he said went on for years.

When he reported the abuse, he told authorities he had not seen Erica since December 2011. Jamie told investigators his parents told the family they let Erica go live with her biological grandmother, a woman they knew as Irene Goodman. The Parsonses said Goodman, who they called Nan, lived in Asheville. But authorities discovered that no such person exists.

Various family members told law enforcement they were aware of incidents of abuse, but no one reported it. Casey’s sister, Robin Ashley, took Erica in for a few months but returned her to the home when Casey became concerned that social workers would find out the girl was not living at home.

Sandy Parsons told authorities that although she and her husband were accepting adoption assistance and food stamps for Erica, they sent the aid to her caregiver. Investigators later determined that was a lie.

Investigators searched numerous databases looking for anyone with Erica’s Social Security number and anyone who might have obtained a driver’s license or other identification in Erica’s name, but they always came up empty.

On two occasions in 2016, Brooklyn “Brook” Parsons, the couple’s oldest daughter, spoke with sheriff’s detectives. She told investigators that once her mother made Erica stand outside on a sunny day with no shoes on until her feet were blistered. She also said the last time she had seen Erica, the girl’s skin looked black, she looked weak and she had open cuts on her body.

In August 2016, Brook visited her father in federal prison, and he told her that he would help investigators find Erica. Sheriff’s Office Detective Chad Moose reached out to Sandy Parsons in federal prison.

Sandy told detectives that his wife told him that Erica had committed suicide on Dec. 17, 2011. He said they placed the girl’s remains into plastic trash bags and a storage tote, then poured bleach over her lifeless body to hide the smell. The family attended a holiday party later the same evening.

On Dec. 18, 2011, Sandy said he and his wife went to Pageland, South Carolina, and he dug a hole. They removed Erica’s remains from a storage container, then buried them. He broke the tote into pieces and discarded it along with Erica’s clothing, he said.

According to Sandy, his wife instructed him to “let me handle the Nan story.”

Casey also contacted Detective Moose in 2016 and admitted to some degree that she had abused Erica. She told Moose that Erica killed herself by taking pills. In 2018 statements, Casey said some of Erica’s fingers may have been broken. She also said Erica hanged herself in a closet using a dog leash.

During the August hearing, District Attorney Cook read from statements that said Erica rarely ate unless Casey gave food to her. The young girl was locked in a closet and ate dog and cat food and, on occasion, food from the trash can, Cook said.

Erica had a number of broken bones that included her jaw, shoulder blade and nose, as well as broken teeth and rib fractures and fractures to the long bone of the upper arm, fingers and lower leg bone, according to the autopsy report. Erica also had fractures to her spine that were determined to have occurred at or near the time of death.

The medical examiner noted that before her death, Erica may have been suffering from an untreated infection or sepsis, kidney failure and rhabdomyolysis, which is a breakdown of muscle tissue that releases a damaging protein into the blood. She also may have suffered from poisoning.

Examiners could not exclude terminal blunt force injury, suffocation or strangulation as causes of death. The final results were “homicidal violence of undetermined means.”

At the time of Casey Parsons’ plea hearing, Cook said that in weighing whether to proceed with a trial or accept a plea agreement, all the parties considered that Casey Parsons could tie up the appeals process for at least a decade.

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