DSS: Social workers visited Erica Parsons' home twice before her disappearance

Sandy and Casey Parsons (Charlotte Observer/WBTV)
Sandy and Casey Parsons (Charlotte Observer/WBTV)

SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Officials with the Rowan County Department of Social Services released a statement Tuesday claiming that social workers were called to Casey and Sandy Parsons' home two times before their adoptive daughter, Erica Parsons, disappeared in 2011.

DSS released the statement in accordance with the N.C.G.S. 7B-2902 statue, which allows details from Child Protective Services to be released in cases concerning a child's death.

DSS Reports

On Tuesday, the department released a statement announcing they received a report from Child Protective Services in March 2002 regarding allegations claiming Casey Parsons had reportedly beat Erica Parsons on the back of her leg. The department then notified the Rowan County Sheriff's Department and social workers who then responded to the Parsons' home.

All of the family members were interviewed at the time and Erica Parsons' adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons, allegedly agreed to use alternate forms of disciple "such as timeout and grounding" instead of spanking, according to the department's statement.

When Erica Parsons was interviewed by a social worker, she was allegedly the size of a small 4-year-old and weighed 41 pounds. No bruises or marks were found on her body except for a "small scratch" on her face, the department stated.

According to DSS, all of the children in the home were interviewed and denied any maltreatment.

When Casey and Sandy Parsons were interviewed, they said Erica was adopted when she was 4-weeks-old. Casey and Sandy Parents claimed Erica had "always been small and her biological parents are very small."

Medical records showed that Erica Parsons was born premature and had hearing loss, according to DSS.

During their first visit, social workers "expressed no concern" about Casey and Sandy Parsons' parenting or bonding, DSS stated.

DSS claimed they received a second report from Child Protective Services in 2004 that claimed Casey Parsons reportedly did not want Erica and "tried to give her away."

According to DSS, the report claimed that Sandy and Casey Parsons did not care whether Erica ate or not. Within 24 hours, deputies were called in and Sandy and Casey Parsons reportedly denied ever threatening to take away food and "agreed not to use withholding of food as a punishment."

Sandy and Casey Parsons also denied using corporal punishment, the statement claimed.

When Erica Parsons was interviewed by a social worker for a second time, she seemed "small for her age," according to DSS.  In DSS' statement, Erica Parsons told the social worker that when she did something bad she allegedly either has a time out or a "whipping," but denied receiving any marks.

At the time of the second CPS report, Erica Parsons was below the fifth percentile for height and weight, DSS reported.

In the statement, Erica Parsons had issues eating. Later in 2004, Erica Parsons was placed in the care of her maternal aunt because Casey Parsons was placed on bed rest until she gave birth, according to DSS.

According to the statement, a risk assessment was moderate for neglect and abuse.

DSS released this statement Tuesday:

"This was a tragic situation for a little girl.  Any time that we lose a child, there are lessons to be learned.  It doesn't mean that something was done incorrectly.  It is simply everyone's responsibility to ensure that children are safe from harm."

WBTV took the report to a local attorney to get their take on what was in the report.

"You are going to have half the people say more should have been done and then we have cases where people say DSS is too invasive," said Penelope Hefner, Principle Attorney for the Sodoma Law Union.

Attorney Penelope Hefner has worked many cases involving DSS but is not connected to the Erica Parsons case in any way.

"Is it missing information or missing action. I don't know," said Hefner.

The report is only two and half pages, and Hefner questions some of the information that is missing, including any follow ups that were done.

"There was not follow through, at least what was stated in the report, what happened after the second report and there were in home services. Who followed up with the services to make sure the child was getting them. Was the medical attention being addressed?," said Hefner. "They did the beginning of a proper investigation. What I can't tell is if they completely followed through with it and just didn't include it in the report or they didn't do the follow up they should have."


On Feb. 20, Sandy and Casey Parsons were indicted on first-degree murder, felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury, felony concealment of death and felony obstruction of justice.

"It's been a long time coming. Her [Erica's] birthday would've been Saturday, she would've been 20 years old. So it's kind of fitting that we're at this point," Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten said Tuesday. "I just wish we could've had them arrested by her birthday."

The duo is already in prison; Casey Parsons in Florida and Sandy Parsons in Michigan. Sandy and Casey Parsons have to be brought to the sheriff's office from prison to be charged.

According to the murder indictment, Casey Stone Parsons and Sandy Wade Parsons did "inflict serious bodily injury, broken and fractured bones which resulted in a permanent and protracted condition that causes extreme pain, on Erica Lynn Parsons, who was approximately 12 to 13 years old at the time."

In the indictment for felony concealment of death, it says that Casey and Sandy Parsons did "destroy and dismember human remains of Erica Lynn Parsons...including removing body parts and otherwise obliterating any portion thereof."

Auten said Erica Parsons would of turned 20-years-old this month.

"This case has weighed on us pretty heavy, we did not want to leave a little girl out there, we wanted to bring her home," Auten said during the press conference. "There are people who think that the Parsons should have already been hung on the square. They'll have their day in court and we'll let the jury decide their fate."

In 2015, Sandy Parsons was sentenced to 96 months in prison, three years supervised release, $14,062 in restitution, and a special assessment of $4,300. Casey Parsons was sentenced to 120 months in prison, three years supervised release, $41,814.00 in restitution, and a special assessment of $1,500.


While the name of Erica Parsons really only became widely known when Jamie Parsons, her adoptive brother, reported her missing in July 2013, she had actually been missing for approximately a year and a half before the report was made.

Erica was adopted by Sandy and Casey Parsons when she was two-years-old.  Erica would have been 13 years old when she was reported missing.

Erica's biological mother, Carolyn Parsons, had at one point been married to Sandy Parsons' brother, but Erica's father was another man.

In October 2016, Sandy Parsons led investigators to her skeletal remains in Chesterfield County, SC. It's a site near property owned by Sandy Parsons' step-father.

Testimony in the federal fraud trials in 2015, in which Casey and Sandy were both convicted of using federal adoption assistance money long after Erica was gone, indicated that the young girl was tortured and neglected by her adoptive family.

Erica was made to stay in a closet when family members went out and was often beaten and starved as a form of punishment, according to the testimony.

Erica's Autopsy

The autopsy of Erica Parsons, released in January, showed the extent of the girl's injuries and seemed to confirm much of the testimony given during the fraud trials.

The autopsy states Parsons' cause of death was "homicidal violence of undetermined means." The coroner wrote "we cannot exclude the possibility of a terminal blunt force injury, suffocation or strangulation."

The autopsy states that "fractures documented at autopsy are consistent with multiple blunt force injuries over a prolonged period, and the growth deficit and low bone density are consistent with malnourishment. The description of the decedent just prior to her disappearance suggests she may have been the suffering from untreated infection/sepsis, rhabdomyolysis, renal failure, or poisoning at that time, all of which could have caused her death."

The autopsy goes on to state that "Given the history of physical abuse, and signs of physical abuse present at autopsy, we cannot exclude the possibility of a terminal blunt force injury, suffocation or strangulation."

Related: More info released on discovery of Erica Parsons' remains 

Testimony: A lifetime of torture

According to the testimony of Jamie Parsons, Casey would often break Erica's fingers by bending them backward. She would then make her own cast for Erica's fingers and would not take her for medical assistance.

Jamie Parsons testified that Sandy would often get mad and punch Erica with his fist in the back and the top of her head. He said Erica was forced to live in a closet and was often locked in the closet for hours at a time. There was no bed in the closet and she was forced to sleep on the floor.

Jamie Parsons also testified that he once broke Erica's arm.

She was not given access to a bathroom, he said in court, and when Casey found out that Erica had relieved herself she would be beaten. He also said food was often withheld from Erica and she was forced to eat dog food out of a can.

Erica's disappearance

The night Jamie last saw Erica, in November 2011, he says she was standing in the corner being punished.

"She looked like a zombie," he said in court. He said her face was pale white and she told him that she "didn't feel good, couldn't breathe too good."

When Erica told Casey that she didn't feel well, she reportedly told Erica to "shut the [expletive] up" and Jamie went to bed, he testified.


The next morning, he says Casey and Sandy weren't home when he woke up.  They didn't return until later in the day and when they did, Jamie says, Sandy looked sick, "like he was about to throw up," and didn't talk.  Casey looked normal, he said.

Casey and Sandy Parsons said in 2013 that they had taken Erica to live with a grandmother named "Nan" in the Asheville area.

Investigators later said "Nan" does not actually exist. "The name and relationship provided to us regarding the name Irene Goodman was not correct," Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten said in July 2014.

According to investigators, Erica's biological grandmother died in 2005 - more than six years before she was last seen and eight years before she was reported missing.

"Nan and Irene don't exist. The only two people that know the truth are the only two people that won't give the truth," Carolyn Parsons said.

After the disappearance of Erica Parsons was reported, law enforcement agencies searched the Parsons home and property on Miller Chapel Road in Salisbury.

According to search warrants returned in August 2013, investigators removed dozens of items from the home, including a "plastic bag with JonBenet Ramsey magazines" and a "JonBenet book with notes inside about remodeling a house."

In addition to finding photos and books, the warrant states that investigators also found material on the "South Carolina Susan Smith case."

The Parsons moved to Fayetteville in August 2013 after Erica's disappearance made national headlines.

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