Community donating for Erica Parsons' funeral and burial

New information on the Erica Parson's case

ROWAN COUNTY, NC (WBTV) - When Erica Parsons was reported missing and the community heard her story, strangers banded together to hope, pray and search. Now that the missing teen's remains have been found, a community is banding together to lay her to rest.

Investigators said it could be another two weeks before Erica's remains are released. The planning for funeral arrangements has already begun.

"We just felt like this was the right thing to do. This community has really had a rough time with this," said Brent Lyerly. "This is something that happens not here, not even Charlotte and everybody has been so involved in just hoping that everybody find her alive. So we feel like we need some closure for this community."

Brent Lyerly owns Lyerly Funeral Home and Cremation Concepts. He said he's donating services for Erica's funeral, including a casket. Lyerly said Erica will be buried in a white casket big enough for a youth - the size she was when she went missing, not the remains found.

"I think everybody is so devastated by this. This little girl being abused and hurt and her whereabouts no one knows," he said. "Everybody was so much hoping that it would be a.... that maybe she was living with someone in California or something. We were hoping for miracles but at least we have closure here and I think this will give – as I said earlier – the community closure."

In a statement to WBTV, the Parsons' family said, "On Thursday September 29 the family of Erica Parsons was informed that her remains had been found in Chesterfield County South Carolina. This is a very hard time for the family and the community and while both take this time to grieve we would like to thank Rowan County Sheriff"s Department, the community, and all the people who have showed great love and sincerity for Erica and the family."

Randall Ashley, Erica's uncle said, "The family would like to thank everyone for their support and their contributions. There have been no greater love than the love that the community has shared with Erica and the family. Thank you for keeping us in your thoughts and your prayers."

"We can't bring her back, but you know our hearts went out to her as far as what she suffered and how she suffered and died that we felt like we had to do something," said Faye Creech of West Lawn Memorial Park in China Grove.

Creech said West Lawn is donating a plot and interment services.

She said, "We will furnish the memorial through Granite Bronze out of Georgia. They'll donate the memorial which will be 28X14 on a 28X18 piece of granite."

Creech said West Lawn "will be furnishing a portrait of her {Erica} in bronze to mount on the marker. It will actually be mounted on it at site. The family is going to bring me her picture back and we will have that in bronze mounted on the memorial. There will be a dedication on the memorial."

Creech said the family chose a guardian angel memorial with an angel on the right and left sides.

She said Wilber Vault Company from Greensboro is donating a vault to protect Erica's casket.

Creech estimates the traditional funeral and burial they're donating for Erica would normally cost at least $10,000.

"We're not cutting any corners on this. We want it nice and we want it in remembrance of her," Creech said. "The Parsons came this morning and they told us how thankful they were that we had made the gesture to give them the space for Erica as well as the other things she should need for a proper burial."

Creech said she didn't know Erica or the Parsons before the teen went missing. Erica's story got to her.

"It's your heart. Your heart just goes out – that you cannot imagine the life that this child had to live and what she went through," she said. "I didn't know her but still my heart goes out to her because I have children. I have grandchildren. You don't have to know her to know. You saw her face on the media, the pictures in the newspapers and everything else. And anyone with any kind of heart whatsoever you can't imagine when you read it and you think about it – you're thinking how horrible for this child. What can I do? And it's this way all through Rowan County."

Creech said, "Everybody wants to step up and do something. You couldn't do anything before. People stood by and everything else but you want to do something for this child and make it the best situation. It's bad you're never going to change it and all that but just honor her. It's to honor her memory is why we're doing it. We're honoring her memory the best way we can."

The Sheriff's Office said public donations can be sent to the organization "Prevent Child Abuse Rowan County." Donors should make a notation of Erica's Angel.

Copyright 2016 WBTV. All rights reserved.