Parsons family at odds over who should get custody of 2 children
By Kathryn Burcham and Nate Stewart
SALISBURY, N.C. —A Rowan County family is fighting to get their two young children back while their teenage daughter who nobody has seen or heard from in nearly two years is still missing.
Casey and Sandy Parsons faced a judge in juvenile court fighting for custody of their two kids, Tobie and Sadie.
The children were taken from the Parsons' home after 15-year-old Erica Parsons was reported missing last month.
Parsons said on the "Dr. Phil" show that investigators took the children as retaliation after she and her husband asked for a lawyer during questioning.
Channel 9 spoke with family members who are split over where the children should live.
The family is at odds over the past, including what happened to Erica. They are at odds over the future of the other two children, one of which just celebrated her ninth birthday apart from her parents.
It was Thursday morning when Casey and Sandy made their way into the Rowan County courthouse.
The two children are being cared for by their maternal grandmother, Shirley Stone, who told Channel 9 she didn't know what to expect.
"I really don't even know what you're talking about right now," Stone said.
But her husband, James Irving Stone, told Channel 9 inside the courthouse, he hopes Sadie and Tobie stay with them, and he thinks Casey, who is his own daughter, is guilty of a crime.
Reporter Tina Terry asked Stone if he thinks his daughter is guilty of Erica's disappearance, and he said, "yes."
He also said since Erica was reported missing last month, Sadie and Tobie have shared disturbing stories about events inside the Parsons' Salisbury home.
Meanwhile, the paternal grandparents don't believe the abuse allegations.
"I hope the stuff is false," said grandfather Will Parsons.
They said the Parsons are good parents and love their kids.
"I want to stand by my boy. I've got to do that," Will Parsons said.
A judge's order barred the media from the court hearing about Sadie and Tobie, saying because Erica is missing; any details revealed in testimony could compromise that investigation.
The Parsons refused to answer questions about what happened in court.
The Rowan County Sheriff's Office announced it was adding $10,000 to the reward.
The "Dr. Phil" show already put up $5,000 earlier this week, putting the total reward at $15,000.
Erica Parsons has not been seen since November 2011. Casey and Sandy Parsons say they sent her to stay with her biological grandmother in Asheville, but investigators say they are lying. Family members have said the grandmother in question died several years ago.
Community says focus needs to be on Erica
Meanwhile people in the community told Channel 9 the focus needs to get back to finding Erica.
Erica's grandparents spoke to Channel 9 for the first time about the items taken from inside the Parsons' family shed Wednesday.
Chopper 9 flew over the red wooden shed while investigators sifted through it Wednesday evening.
The items seized from inside that shed include a videotape, blue vacuum pieces, including a filter, school records for Sandy and Casey Parsons, a hammer and teeth.
"Do you have any comment on the teeth that were found in the home?" Channel 9 reporter Nate Stewart asked.
"Like I said, they have no comment," said Parsons attorney Carlyle Sherrill.
Channel 9 also questioned Sandy Parsons' father about the shed on his property and the items they pulled out.
"No I don't know. That ain't my shed," said William Parsons.
William Parsons said Sandy and Casey were the only ones that had access to the shed.
He also told Channel 9 the shed was only used for storage.
As many filed out of the courtroom, concerned residents hung fliers inviting others to a candlelight vigil for Erica, hoping to keep her picture in the forefront.
"We need to do something to keep her story going, that's what we are doing," said vigil organizer Crystal Pope.
Residents will hold that vigil Friday night at 8 p.m. in the 200 block of Miller Chapel Road.