Investigators: It’s unclear why parents didn’t report girl missing
By: Shavonne Potts
The family of a girl missing for nearly two years can’t answer investigators’ questions about where she is because they simply don’t know, their attorney said.
Erica Lynn Parsons, 15, has been missing since Nov. 19, 2011, and was reported missing July 30 by her older brother, James Parsons, 20. James Parsons told law enforcement his sister was either missing or he didn’t know her current location, Capt. John Sifford said.
Parsons said he’d moved out of his family’s Miller Chapel Road home two months ago.
Casey Parsons, the teen’s mother, referred questions to attorney Carlyle Sherrill of Salisbury. Sherrill said Casey and husband Sandy came to his office after they’d been questioned by law enforcement for two days.
He said the couple felt intimidated by law enforcement and contacted him after their interviews.
Sherrill said the Parsons couple had some indication that Erica, who they adopted as a baby, was in Asheville.
He confirmed the Parsonses do not have any relatives in Asheville, but he said the connection to Asheville was through the girl’s birth mother.
“I’m not saying the natural mother is involved, but they do not have relatives there. The natural mother knew someone in the Asheville area,” Sherrill said.
The family had spoken with the teen by phone, he said, but it had been awhile.
Sherrill said during their last conversation with Erica the teen told her parents she didn’t want to be with them.
“They thought she was a rebellious teenager and wanted to be where she was,” he said.
Sherrill said the Parsonses told law enforcement everything they knew. He did not go into specifics of what the couple knew.
Sifford said the law enforcement agency seeks the truth in any investigation, and conducts them in a professional manner.
“We seek the full cooperation of the parents of any missing child, and normally receive full cooperation from parents who want to find their missing children, without involving an attorney,” Sifford said.
Erica’s grandparents, Steve and Janet Parsons, have spoken with other media outlets, but declined an interview with the Post. Steve Parsons told reporters he had not gotten a straight answer from his son and daughter-in-law as to the whereabouts of Erica. He said he fears something may have happened to Erica and her parents aren’t saying.
North Carolina introduced its own version of Caylee’s law, named after Caylee Anthony, who was not reported missing by her mother, Casey, in 2008 for nearly a month. Her remains were later found.
The bill was signed by Gov. Pat McCrory in May, but doesn’t go into effect until December. The bill makes it a felony when parents knowingly fail to report to law enforcement their child missing for at least 24 hours. If any other person who reasonably suspects a child may be in danger, but doesn’t tell law enforcement in a reasonable time, that person faces misdemeanor charges.
The Parsonses have a home-based business, Parsons Kennels, where they breed miniature dachshunds, pugs and hedgehogs, according to their website. The Parsonses have five children — three boys and two girls. Erica was one of three children who were homeschooled.
James Parsons was charged in February 2010 by China Grove Police for misdemeanor simple assault for biting his 3-year-old brother on the arm to “see if he could bring blood to the (surface),” a department report said. The children’s mother, Casey, called authorities regarding the incident. James Parsons was 16 at the time. In August 2011 the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office went out to the Miller Chapel Road home where they say James Parsons assaulted his mother, brother and sister and choked his sister’s dog. It’s not clear if Erica was the sister involved in this incident. Records do not indicate James Parsons was convicted of those charges.
Investigators have spoken with family members, but at this time don’t know Erica’s whereabouts. Erica is described as small for her age. She is Caucasian, 4 feet 5 inches tall, 85-90 pounds, with a thin build. She has brown hair and brown eyes. It’s unknown what type of clothing Erica would be wearing.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office at 704-216-8700.