FBI and SBI joins in search for missing girl
By Dan Burley
The FBI and the State Bureau of Investigation have joined the search for a Rowan County teenager who was last seen by her adoptive parents in December 2011, according to authorities.
The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office said Thursday that it’s no closer to finding Erica Parsons, 15, who was reported missing by the Parsonses’ son, Erica’s adoptive brother, on July 30.
Communications between the sheriff’s office and the Parsons family have come to a stalemate, Chief Deputy David Ramsey told the Observer Thursday.
The Parsonses hired a lawyer last Thursday because they believed investigators were accusing them of wrongdoing, Casey Parsons, Erica Parsons’ adoptive mother, told the Observer.
“If you had a missing child, would you obtain legal counsel when law enforcement is searching for her?” Ramsey said.
The sheriff’s office called the Parsonses uncooperative and questioned the accuracy of the information the couple had provided.
No charges have been filed in connection with Erica’s disappearance.
Ramsey said the FBI and SBI were helping in the search for Erica.
Casey Parsons said her son, James, notified authorities after he moved out of the house a few weeks ago following a family dispute.
Parsons said that she allowed Erica to go live with a woman she believed was her biological grandmother, an Irene Goodman of Asheville, around Christmas 2011.
Parsons said that Erica had visited Goodman twice before, after Goodman first contacted the family in July 2011.
“She knew everything about us,” Parsons said. “Names, birthdates, all of Erica’s information.”
Casey and Erica Parsons talked with Goodman on the phone over the next few month, Parsons said. In September, Erica said that she wanted to go meet the woman.
Parsons and Erica met Goodman at a McDonald’s in Mooresville, Parsons said. Erica spent the weekend riding horses in Asheville with Goodman. By her third visit, Erica didn’t want to come home, Parsons said.
“They gave her everything,” Parsons said. “They won her over with gifts. They promised her a car when she turned 16.”
Parsons’ last contact with Erica was on the phone in February 2012, she said. Erica told Parsons that she was going to stay with Goodman. Parsons said she understood – the Parsonses had four kids of their own, and Casey Parsons was struggling with illness.
“I let her go,” Parsons said. “I never once doubted in my mind that she wasn’t safe there.”