(INSIDE EDITION) A North Carolina man allegedly admitted to police that he tortured his disabled, adopted daughter before leading them to the body of the dead 13-year-old girl, who was buried six days before Christmas in 2011, authorities said.
The remains of Erica Parsons were found in South Carolina in September after her adoptive father, Sandy Parsons, claimed to know where they were left, according to a search warrant obtained by InsideEdition.com that was used to locate the little girl’s grave.
Parsons, 42, was about 12 months into an eight-year prison sentence after he and his wife, Casey Parsons, were convicted of tax fraud — including cashing adoption assistance checks that totaled more than $120,000 long after Erica vanished — when he allegedly reached out to Rowan County sheriff’s detective Lt. Chad Moose about his adopted daughter.
Little Erica was reported missing in July 2013 by James Parsons, her adoptive older brother, after he had an argument with his parents.
He told police that he had last seen his developmentally disabled younger sister in late 2011.
Standing in the corner as a punishment for unknown reasons, as she was often made to do, Erica “looked like a zombie,” James Parsons testified at his parents’ sentencing hearing.
“She said she could not breathe too good,” James Parsons said.
He said his mother told Erica to "shut the f*** up."
He never saw the girl again.
Sandy and Casey Parsons told authorities that Erica had gone to live with her maternal grandmother, a woman named Nan Goodman, who they met through Facebook. Investigators could find no such woman and were able to confirm that Erica’s real maternal grandmother had died years earlier.
A nationwide search was launched in hopes of finding Erica, as her image was plastered on billboards and commercials while investigators scoured databases for any trace of the girl.
In their searches for the child, authorities armed with search warrants at the Parsons’ home uncovered a closet that Erica was often kept in for long stretches of time; her blood and DNA — from either saliva or urine — was found on the floor, according to reports.
In August, Parsons went on to tell Moose about the unbearable treatment Erica endured, including being locked in a closet, beaten with a belt buckle, having her fingers bent back and being choked, the warrant said.
“UNC School of Medicine Dr. Cynthia Brown characterized the treatment of Erica as child torture,” the warrant said.
Parsons allegedly said Erica was dead, noting that her body was “discarded” on December 19, 2011 off Taylor Chapel Road near Pageland, close to his mother’s home, police said.
After being temporary released from prison, Parsons allegedly led investigators to the makeshift grave, where Erica’s skeleton was unearthed after nearly 10 hours.
No plea deal has been struck, nor were any promises made to Parsons in exchange for the information he provided, officials said. No one has yet been charged in Erica’s death, as the North Carolina State Medical Examiner has not yet determined the cause of death.