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Erica Parsons' Adoptive Mother Pleads Guilty To Murder, Child Abuse

CMPD File Photo

The adoptive mother of Erica Parsons has pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and felony child abuse and will spend the rest of her life in prison.

Casey Parsons entered into the plea today in Rowan County Superior Court, also pleading guilty to felony concealment of death and felony obstruction of justice.

It comes nearly six years to the day that her teenage adopted daughter, Erica, was reported missing by her adoptive brother.

He told investigators on July 30, 2013 that Erica had vanished nearly two years prior - she was last seen in December 2011 - and that he believed his parents had killed her.

The case drew national attention as the parents, Casey and Sandy, denied that the girl had been killed, even appearing on the Dr. Phil show where the couple claimed she had gone to live with a grandmother nicknamed "Nan" in Asheville.

The show administered a polygraph test to Sandy Parsons, which he failed, while Casey refused to take one. Investigators and news outlets were also unable to confirm the existance of any such grandparent.

The Parsons were later arrested and convicted in 2014 on fraud charges, having accepted federal adoption benefits for years after Erica's disappearance.

In disturbing court testimony at sentencing, family members said Erica was despised by her adoptive family and routinely subjected to severe physical abuse. Her adoptive siblings said they were encouraged to beat Erica with belts and fists, and that their parents would choke Erica and bend her fingers back until they broke.

Family members also testified that Erica's food was often withheld as punishment. Occassionally, she was fed dog food from a can. Her adoptive parents would also lock her in a closet for extended periods and later beat her for relieving herself. She was never taken to a hospital.

Erica, who was partially deaf, was born Feb. 24, 1998 to Carolyn Parsons, sister of Sandy. The mother relinquished parental rights to her brother and his wife when Erica was five months old, fearing she couldn't afford to raise her.

Casey Parsons' sister, Robin Ashley, was quoted by The Charlotte Observer as telling the court Casey didn't bond with Erica in part because she despised Erica's biological mother. "She couldn't stand to look at her face because she reminded her of Carolyn Parsons," Ashley said.

In September 2016, Erica's remains were located in a shallow grave in Chesterfield, South Carolina after the husband, Sandy, discussed the location with authorities. The remains had been buried on property owned by members of the Parsons family.

Sandy Parsons is also facing first-degree murder charges, though a trial date has not been set. He and Casey are already serving time in prison for their prior fraud convictions.