The remains of a 13-year-old North Carolina girl who was first reported missing in 2013 have been found, local authorities announced, CBS News reported Monday. Erica Parsons was living with her adoptive mother and father when their biological son told authorities he had not seen the girl since 2011.
Developmentally delayed and partially deaf, Parsons was the target of harsh punishment in the family home near the town of Salisbury. James Parsons, the sibling who reported the girl missing, testified that children in the home were encouraged to abuse the girl. Often times she was either left unfed or given dog food to eat.
In 2015, an FBI agent testified that when investigators searched the Parsons’ home back in 2013, they found traces of the girl’s blood and either urine or saliva in a closet.
Authorities were able to find Erica Parsons after her father led them to the area in which she was buried, a shallow grave in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. Detectives found her skull and bones not far from where Sandy Parson’s mother resided.
"Everybody involved in this case has children," Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten told reporters. "It touches you. I was there at the grave site when her body was recovered and I'll tell you there's some pretty tough officers that had a pretty tough time. It's worn on all of us," he said.
It was not immediately clear when Erica Parsons' remains were discovered.
Erica's adoptive parents, Casey and Sandy Parsons, are behind bars after being convicted of tax fraud. The couple continued to cash Erica’s adoption support checks and claim her on their taxes after she went missing.
Erica may have died long before she was reported missing. During James Parsons’ last encounter with his sister, he stated she complained of feeling ill and having trouble breathing.
Following the discovery of her body, Auten insisted that authorities will continue to investigate the young girl’s death.
"We're glad to have found Erica," he said. "We're going to get her to a good resting spot. And then we're going to continue to seek justice. We're going to see this case through and get it finished," Auten added.