The autopsy report for a 13-year-old North Carolina girl presumed to have been murdered as long as six years ago concluded that the girl had in fact died of homicidal violence, and authorities are expected to file charges against her adoptive parents.
WSOC-TV 9 reports that Erica Parson’s remains were found in a wooded area in Chesterfield County in 2016, but she had been missing since 2011. Her adopted brother reported her missing in 2013, nearly two years after he or anyone in the family had last seen her.
When questioned by police, Erica’s adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons, claimed that Erica had gone to visit her grandmother in Asheville. A follow-up investigation found that the grandmother did not exist.
In 2016, Casey Parsons reportedly led police to a wooded area where Erica’s remains were found. The circumstances of that discovery are not clear, but WSOC-TV 9 reports that authorities said at the time that Casey’s presumed cooperation did not mean he would be offering a plea agreement.
Sandy and Casey Parsons have not yet been charged with Erica’s murder, though they are currently in federal prison after being convicted of accepting federal benefits for Erica when she was no longer in the home.
WSOC-TV obtained Erica’s autopsy report, which included interviews with family members and witnesses. According to the report, Erica had suffered severe, ongoing abuse and died from “homicidal violence of undetermined means.”
The medical examiner determined that Erica could have died for strangulation, suffocation, or blunt force trauma, and that her death followed a prolonged period of abuse, malnourishment, and possible untreated illnesses.
From the WSOC-TV report:
According to the autopsy report, in the week before her 2011 disappearance, Erica’s siblings described her as looking gray with sunken eyes, smelling bad with open, oozing cuts, very weak and complaining of not being able to breathe.
The autopsy report showed that Erica suffered multiple blunt force injuries over a prolonged period of time, and a growth deficit and low bone density show she was malnourished.
The report also found evidence that Erica had been beaten with a belt, choked, forced to sleep in a closet and forced to eat dog food.
The news station spoke to Theresa Goodman, who was Erica’s biological aunt on her father’s side. Goodman has long been convinced that her niece’s adoptive parents killed her. She also believes that more people in the family knew about the abuse and didn’t speak up about it.
“I can’t imagine anyone doing something like that. My mind can’t wrap around it. How can anybody do something like this to a child?” Goodman told WSOC-TV.
Erica’s aunt said she wants the Parsons’ both serve the harshest possible sentence for the girl’s death.
Goodman said she hopes “they get charged and be sent away forever, if not electrocuted, or whatever.”
And while authorities are expected to press charges against the Parsons’, the autopsy report alone will probably not be enough.
Attorney James Wyatt weighed in as a legal expert, and told the news station that more will be needed in order to bring charges against Erica’s adoptive parents.
“ …Even though this is the most proof we’ve ever seen, the autopsy alone still can’t close the case,” Wyatt said.
“In other words, the police department will have to have more than this autopsy report to bring criminal charges.”
[Feature image: Wikimedia/Erica Parsons]