ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - After Casey and Sandy Parsons were both convicted of fraud and are facing sentencing in federal court for defrauding the government, the family was back in court Thursday. Neither Casey nor Sandy were at the hearing.
The judge decided to not change anything about the custody arrangements for Casey and Sandy Parson's children who have been living with members of the extended family since 2013.
The couple's two youngest children, Toby and Sadie, were taken from the home when the investigation into Erica's disappearance began in August of 2013.
During the most recent custody review in October there was a change in the custody plan, removing the option of reunification for the Parsons and their youngest children.
According to the North Carolina DHHS web site, reunification means the biological parents can petition the court to regain custody of the children.
Since the October hearing, the plan for the Parsons removes that option and instead moved to a plan of guardianship, with the possibility that full legal custody could be awarded to other family members.
Erica Parsons was reported missing in late July of 2013 by her adoptive brother, but had not actually been seen for more than a year before the report was filed.
Despite an extensive investigation by the Rowan Sheriff's Office, the SBI, and the FBI, no trace of Erica Parsons, dead or alive, has ever been found. Investigators have collected evidence from the Parsons former home on Miller Chapel Road, as well as property owned by other family members.
Nationally, Nancy Grace and the Dr. Phil Show even took an interest in the case. Sandy and Casey appeared on the Dr. Phil show, but abruptly left after Sandy appeared to fail a lie detector test given by someone associated with the show. Casey refused to take the test.
Casey and Sandy Parsons maintain that they delivered Erica to a grandmother named "Nan" who lived in the Asheville area. Local law enforcement and the FBI have repeatedly said that Casey and Sandy Parsons are lying about what happened to Erica and that Nan does not exist.
Casey and Sandy, who have moved to Fayetteville, are allowed supervised visits with the children, but have repeatedly said that they want their children living with them.
"If you want your kids back, to us all a favor and produce mine or tell the truth," Carolyn Parsons told WBTV.
Carolyn Parsons is Erica's biological mother. A judge that ran one of the earlier custody reviews told Casey and Sandy that unless they could produce Erica, it would be very difficult for them to have their biological children returned to the their home. Carolyn Parsons says that's why she's so interested in what happens with Casey and Sandy's children.
"Nobody deserves to live in a home like that, nobody deserves to be afraid, nobody deserves to be scared to go to sleep…you love Sadie and Toby, but this is the life you have them choose to live forever," Parsons added. "Do the right thing and let them go, do the right thing, give them a home that they can be happy in."
Carolyn Parsons said she planned to be at the custody review in hopes of seeing Sandy and Casey face-to-face.
Sandy and Casey Parsons are both facing federal prison time for defrauding the government by continuing to accept federal adoption assistance money long after Erica Parsons was gone from the family home.
In November, Sandy Parsons was found guilty of one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; one count of aggravated identity theft, which carries a mandatory sentence of two years, consecutive to any other sentence, and a $250,000 fine; one count of false statement to a government agency, which carries a maximum sentence of two years in prison and a $250,000 fine; twenty counts of theft of government funds which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $250,000 fine; and twenty counts of mail fraud which carries a maximum sentence of twenty years in prison and a $250,000 fine.
Sandy will be sentenced on February 18.
Casey Parsons, 39, pleaded guilty to 16 similar federal charges Oct. 1.
Anyone with information on the disappearance and whereabouts of Erica Parsons is asked to contact the Rowan Sheriff's Office at 704-216-8700, or the FBI Charlotte office at 704-672-6100.
A reward of $50,000 is now being offered for information.