Juvenile summons issued to Sandy Parsons, adoptive father of missing girl
By: Shavonne Potts
The adoptive parents of missing teen Erica Parsons are expected to appear in Rowan County Juvenile Court next week in response to a summons issued by the Department of Social Services.
At issue is the custody of their two youngest children.
Sandy Parsons received a civil summons Friday at his home on Miller Chapel Road as news crews watched from nearby. He and wife Casey Parsons have been under intense scrutiny since their 20-year-old son, James, reported July 30 that Erica has been gone since late 2011.
That prompted the Rowan County Department of Social Service to visit the Parsonses' home and remove their two youngest children on July 31, placing them with a relative.
The juvenile summons is a petition issued to parents regarding allegations of abuse, neglect or dependency.
Sandy and Casey Parsons say they sent Erica to live with her biological grandmother in Asheville in late 2011. Investigators have not been able to verify that information.
No charges have been filed in connection with the teen's disappearance.
Casey Parsons was taken to Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center in Winston-Salem on Thursday after investigators began searching her home. The couple's attorney, Carlyle Sherrill, said Casey had complications with her stomach and colon. Casey Parsons has since returned home and was expected to receive the same summons.
The summons notifies the parent or guardian to appear in court for a review of custody, placement options, visitation and any other issues. The court document can also act as a hearing notice for continued custody of a juvenile.
If the court determines that allegations of abuse, neglect or dependency are true, it can order any number of outcomes, including requiring the parent or guardian to have mental health treatment or counseling. The court could terminate parental rights.
Sherrill said Casey and Sandy Parsons would be required to attend the hearing, but he did not know when it was scheduled. He did not say what was contained in the document, nor did he identify the children.
In a Aug. 9 interview with the Post, the couple said they have two young children — Sadie, 8, and Toby, 7.
Sherrill said he will not represent the couple in the civil matter; the court will appoint each of them an attorney.
Sherrill said he could not specifically detail what's contained in the summons, but said he's “sure it spells out allegations and it's probably some of the same things you've heard already.”
Investigators released two search warrants Thursday — one from the Rowan County Sheriff's Office and the other from the State Bureau of Investigation.
The warrants describe accounts from relatives and others who say Casey and Sandy Parsons routinely abused Erica mentally and physically. The unnamed relatives said Casey often harshly disciplined Erica, the warrants said.
Sherrill said that during a July 30 visit at the Miller Chapel Road home, Social Services workers inspected the home and created a checklist. Twelve questions on the list indicated officials did not believe the children were in a dangerous situation, he said. However, on the final question, Social Services deemed the environment dangerous because Erica was missing, he said.
The recommendation was that the Parsonses try to help find Erica, Sherrill said.
Investigators with the Sheriff's Office questioned Sandy and Casey on July 30 and 31. When the interviews became accusatory, the Parsonses said, they decided to hire attorney Sherrill to help them.
Sherrill said the couple have not seen their two youngest children since the two were removed July 31.
“At least having a juvenile court petition filed, that would give them the opportunity to have their day in court and hopefully get the kids back,” he said.
For the record
It was reported by other news media that the couple took some belongings and left their home overnight.
Sherrill said he'd heard some “suggestion that they were gone,” through the media and the Rowan Sheriff's Office.
“My response to that is, she had surgery yesterday. She's recovering from surgery. The house is torn apart. There is news media at their doorstep. What would you?” he said.
He said there was no legal reason why the couple could not leave their home or the area.
“No more than it would be for you to leave or me to go to Greensboro right now,” Sherrill said, pointing to a Post reporter.
He disputed the claim made by a relative, cited in a search warrant, that Casey let Erica stay with another relative for eight months and then got her back, fearing DSS would find out.
Erica lived with Casey's sister, Robin, for eight months, he said, but he denied the claim that Casey resumed care because she didn't want to lose benefits and money for Erica's care.
“That was not at all the situation, that Social Services might find out she didn't have her. That's totally apocryphal,” Sherrill said.
Erica did spend a period of time with Robin and came back, he said, because Robin couldn't handle Erica and that created problems in the home.
When asked about family members' statements to law enforcement regarding abuse by Sandy and Casey, Sherrill said, “That's what someone else said, not what Casey said.”
Sherrill said he did not expect any other interviews Friday with Rowan County investigators, SBI or FBI officials. An FBI agent interviewed Sandy on Thursday, but Casey has not been questioned since being questioned at their home on Wednesday.
Rowan Sheriff's Office officials have not received a timeframe when an age-progression photo of Erica would be released. The local agency asked the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children to create the photo. A previously released photo of Erica when she was 13. She is now 15.