A mother and father whose teenage daughter disappeared in 2011 were reportedly cashing her benefits checks until they were arrested for tax fraud in 2015. The girl's remains were found in September.
The body of Erica Parsons, 13 at the time of her disappearance, was found in South Carolina near the home of her father's mother. Erica's adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons, were convicted in 2015 of tax fraud related to the girl's disappearance, according to the Daily Mail. Now, police say that investigation into Erica's death is ongoing.
With a tip from Sandy, Erica's adoptive father, her body was found buried near his mother's home, the Charlotte Observer reports. According to a relative, Sandy had bragged in prison, where he is serving eight years for tax fraud, that police would never be able to find the girl's body. Sandy later agreed to cooperate with detectives, and told them where Erica's body was buried.
Casey is serving 10 years in prison in Tallahassee, Florida. The couple were convicted in 2015 of cashing more than $12,000 in adoption assistance checks after Erica disappeared.
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Testimony at the trial for Sandy and Casey reportedly revealed a pattern of abuse that lasted from 2000 until Erica's disappearance in 2011. Robin Ashley testified that Casey hated Erica's biological mother, and so she took out on the young girl. "She couldn't stand to look at her face because she reminded her of [Erica's biological mother] Carolyn Parsons," said Ashley.
Erica was reportedly often denied food, and if she tried to take food, she would be given canned dog food as a punishment.
James Parsons recalled in his testimony that the last time he saw Erica before her disappearance, she was being punished and made to stand in a corner.
"She didn’t look too good – she looked like a zombie," James said. "She said she did not feel good. She said she could not breathe too good."
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According to James, Casey told Erica "to shut the f*** up."
Ashley said that once, Erica came to stay with her, and she noticed that the girl had bruising on her back. Ashley said that Casey had sent her away to keep herself from hurting the girl more.
"She lost control," said Ashley. "She didn't want to end up killing Erica."
Casey and Sandy both said that they had sent Erica to live with a woman that they believed was the girl's biological grandmother before her disappearance.
Before sentencing Casey to 10 years of jail time for tax fraud, U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Schroeder said that the case was among the most disturbing he had ever ruled on.
"I've sentenced more than 1,000 people," said Judge Schroeder. "I cannot think of another case that has troubled me more."