SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - The adoptive parents of a missing Rowan County teenager have filed notices that they plan to appeal their convictions on federal fraud charges.
Sandy and Casey Parsons, who adopted now-missing teenager Erica Parsons, were convicted in late April to a combined 18 years in prison for defrauding the government.
Casey Parsons is serving a ten year sentence in a federal prison. Her husband, Sandy, is serving an eight year sentence.
Casey pleaded guilty on October 1, 2014, to one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, five counts of mail fraud, five counts of aiding in the preparation of a false tax return, four counts of wire fraud, and one count of aggravated identity the trial.
Sandy was found guilty of 43 federal fraud charges after a trial in October 2014. The charges included one count of conspiracy to defraud the government, one count of aggravated identity theft, one count of false statement to a government agency, 20 counts of theft of government funds, and 20 counts of mail fraud.
Sandy's appeal was filed on April 30; Sandy's appeal was filed May 5.
Monday, Sandy's lawyer told WBTV via phone that they plan to appeal both the judgment and the conviction.
Investigators say the couple continued to accept federal adoption assistance money for Erica after the teen was no longer living in the family's home.
Erica Parsons was reported missing on July 30, 2013 by her adoptive brother who said the family had not seen Erica since November 2011. She was 13-years-old when she was last seen.
That brother, Jamie Parsons, took the stand in February and testified that nearly everyone in the family had abused Erica routinely. He admitted that he, Casey, Sandy and his sister, Brooke, had all abused her.
According to his testimony, Casey would often break Erica's fingers by bending them backwards. She would then make her own casts for Erica's fingers and would not take her for medical assistance.
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.
The federal judge said this story was "a poorly concocted, deliberate falsehood."
Judge Thomas Schroeder lectured both Casey and Sandy as each heard their sentence. He said that he believed they had abused Erica in such an extreme manner that when something happened to her in 2011, they refused to get medical help because the abuse would be evident.
Schroeder described Erica Parsons as a "defenseless little girl who only wanted to be loved," but instead was the victim of "extreme" abuse.
He said that he believed testimony that Erica was forced to live in a closet, that she was constantly in fear of soiling herself, and that if she did, she was punished.
Schroeder said he believed that Erica died in 2011.
He said he believed that on that night she was first punished for complaining that she felt bad, then died and was taken and abandoned by Casey and Sandy in what the judge called a "horrible, horrible act committed in the dark of night."
"I have sentenced thousands of people over the years," Judge Schroeder told the couple, "But no case I've ever had is as disturbing as this one."
The judge called Casey Parsons "morally bankrupt" and said she had a "depraved mind." He also described Sandy Parsons as having a "twisted mind" before handing down their sentences.
Anyone with any information on the disappearance or whereabouts of Erica Parsons is asked to contact the FBI or the Rowan Sheriff's Office at 704-216-8700.