The biological mother of Erica Parsons is speaking out after graphic details of the little girl's alleged abuse at the hands of her adoptive family were revealed in public for the first time.
Casey and Sandy Parsons appeared in federal court Wednesday to learn their sentencing on federal fraud charges. After a full day of testimony, the case was continued and will pick up again on March 27.
During the hearing, several people, including family members, testified about the couple and prosecutors asked questions, including allegations of abuse for the missing teenager.
Erica Parsons was reported missing in July 2013, more than a year after she was last seen by family members.
Witnesses on Wednesday included a woman who says she hired Casey to be a surrogate mother and deliver her baby. Casey claimed she miscarried the child. She later successfully delivered the baby and tried to sell the child to her sister, Robin Ashley, for $10,000.
Ashley took the stand Wednesday saying that Casey beat Erica and made her stand in the corner often. Pictures were shown of Erica standing in that corner on five different occasions.
Ashley said she saw bruises and marks on Erica. Casey gave Erica to Ashley to look after for a few months so that she "wouldn't kill her," Ashley said. Adding that Casey "couldn't stand the sight of her face." Ashley said her sister told her she had lost control and assaulted Erica.
In one of the most disturbing testimonies, Casey and Sandy's son, Jamie, claimed that he, his sister and both of his parents would routinely abuse Erica.
His testimony included claims of broken fingers and forcing Erica to live in a closet and eat dog food.
Erica's biological mother, Carolyn Parsons, spoke out Wednesday about the allegations made in court.
"I didn't know any of that. Oh my God," she said via phone. "Nobody wants to know how angry I am."
"I've got people posting to my Facebook page, texting me - telling me bits and pieces of what's going on," she continued.
"Erica's child abuse was the same as mine. I had a birth mother who put me and my brothers in a utility room and choose to eat dog food or die. And now that I'm hearing they fed Erica dog food as punishment. They did to my child what was done to me. Except for worse and I think it's pathetic."
She says Erica was brought to visit her in 2011.
"They could have left her. I was treated like that and they knew it," she said. "[If] they were having problems with her, they should have brought her clothes with her and drove and never looked back. But it was too easy - they wouldn't be getting free money."
"I think it is incredible. I think it is awesome that they were told there was nothing gonna allowed to be said about Erica and as it comes out this sentencing has been about nothing but Erica. God Bless America."
Sandy and Casey 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 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 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.
Casey pleaded guilty to 16 similar federal charges Oct. 1.
The Parsons used to live next door to Patti Miller.
"I actually got to hear some of the yelling and screaming while they lived there," Miller said. She remembers one time seeing Erica playing outside. Never did she imagine that terror could be unfolding for the little girl.
"It's made me absolutely nauseous" Miller said.
Back in 2013, she watched as investigators searched the Parsons' property. Now, she's trying to digest the details of the abuse that court testimony says Erica endured from her adoptive parents.
"How could you as a human being treat a child in that manner? It frankly just disgust me that someone could actually do that to an innocent poor little child," Miller said. "I teach middle school so when I see things that happen in my middle school children's lives, it automatically makes me think about Erica and what she had to have gone through in her life, and what kind of challenges she was facing, and how she was able to survive as long as she was, and how she must have felt as a child not knowing why she was being treated that way."
Cody Jenkins didn't know anything about the missing persons case of Erica Parsons.
But when the disabled veteran, who works with Paws for Soldiers, made an offer on the house where the Parsons used to live on Miller Chapel Road, the real estate agent told him about the little girl who went missing.
"It took a while. We took probably a full day thinking about it to actually going through with it," Jenkins said. "But it's a really nice house and the fact that it has a guest house really helps."
He and his family moved in July 2014.
Wednesday, as details of the court testimony became public, Jenkins started to learn more about what allegedly happened in the house where he now lives.
"It's a terrible thing. I couldn't imagine going through something like that," he said. "As a disabled veteran, I've been through a lot. It's sad. I feel for the family. I feel for the little girl. I hope they find the little girl. I hope she's somewhere safe but I try not to think about it."