SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - People living in Salisbury and Rowan County have been following the case of missing teenager Erica Parsons since it began in July, 2013.
At that time the Rowan Sheriff's Office issued an alert to be on the lookout for the teen, but it didn't take long before many in the community suspected foul play, but hoped for a better outcome.
The news that broke Thursday night about the discovery of Erica's remains seemed to validate everyone's worst fears.
"I kind of had a feeling that something was not right with that picture when it first came out," said Lisa Musgrave. "Her missing for two years and they didn't report her, I mean she was gone for two years and they didn't know? It didn't make any sense to me. I hope they go in and charge them with murder."
"It's sad, I feel sorry for the little girl in general. I just can't believe that it got to that point," said Felicia Jenkins. "How did nobody notice her missing for that long? How it got that far. I just don't understand it."
Salisbury attorney Carlyle Sherrill initially represented Erica's adoptive parents Casey and Sandy Parsons. That relationship ended when the couple was hit with federal fraud charges in 2014.
"My first reaction was that it's a shame, it's a pity," Sherrill said on Friday. "I'm so sorry it ended up that way."
Local resident Allan Gilmour followed the case, and like many, was disappointed in the outcome.
"It's a shame, it's like disgusting," Gilmour said. "We were hoping that she might be found alive but the fact that she got killed and moved so far away from where she was first missing, it's a tragedy and it's just gross."
Local youth minister and pastor Brian Farmer shared the disappointment, but offered something else when asked about his reaction.
"I think the biggest takeaway we can have is that it's sad, it's horrible, and you hear people crying for justice and everything else, and that's fine," Farmer said. "Right now we need to grieve a little girl, and we also need to look around. There are other kids like her. There are kids who may be hidden away. There are kids who are going through abuse all the time. I know it's hard for us to intervene if we're not in the family, if we're not there knowing what's going on, but we can reach out to other families and if we see a family that is kind of shut off or whatever, why not reach out to that family? Share the love of God with them, just be kind to them, open up and maybe give a chance for that kid to have a better life because someone reached out to the family, reached out to them and cared enough to see is everything okay."
As far as any criminal charges go, Rowan County District Attorney Brandy Cook says the investigation is continuing.
"First and foremost, we are thankful that Erica has been located and her body has been recovered," Cook wrote in an email to WBTV. "While this was not the outcome anyone had desired, we hope that it does provide some sense of closure for Erica's family members, now that she has been found and can have a proper burial. The District Attorney's Office will continue to work closely with the Rowan County Sheriff's Office throughout this ongoing investigation. Due to the NC Rules of Professional Conduct, our office cannot make any comments concerning the specifics of the investigation."
Casey Parsons is currently serving a ten year sentence in federal prison on fraud charges. Sandy Parsons is serving an eight year sentence. No one has been charged in the disappearance or death of Erica Parsons.