‘Killer’ parents’ eerie Dr Phil plea
"THIS just has a stench to the whole thing".
This sentence - uttered by Dr Phil McGraw about missing teenager Erica Parsons to her adoptive parents on national TV - has taken on an eerie new tone this week, after the pair were charged with her murder.
Sandy and Casey Parsons went on the Dr Phil show in 2013 to plead for help in finding their 13-year-old daughter.
The Parsons told Dr Phil that Erica had gone to stay with a woman named Irene Goodman (who claimed to be Erica's biological grandmother) at a farm for a few weeks over Christmas in 2011 - two years prior to the TV interview.
Close to tears, mother Casey describes how she suspected something was amiss when she noticed that Erica hadn't taken a suitcase with her for the trip, and that Irene Goodman had purchased a whole new set of clothing for Erica.
Casey insinuates that the biological grandmother and Erica had a plan in place before she went up there for a her holiday, and that Goodman is withholding Erica from them.
She says months later, on a phone call to Goodman, she could hear Erica in the background saying "tell that b**** not to come up here".
Dr Phil goes to quiz Casey on this point, saying "but the police can't find any Irene Goodman ... we can't find any Irene Goodman and we've done everything we can ... every 'Irene Goodman' we've found has no connection to this case whatsoever".
The mother says that she decided not to pursue Erica's return over the space of two years because "I knew she was safe and she was being looked after".
However, the Parsons were forced to address the girl's whereabouts after Erica's brother reported her disappearance to police.
The Parsons' version of events was blown wide open this week when they were charged with her murder.
The pair (who are both currently behind bars for fraud related to more than $US15,000 ($19,000) in adoption assistance money cashed following Erica's death), have been indicted by a grand jury in the murder of their teen daughter.
Erica's body was found in September of 2016 in South Carolina, five years after she vanished. Her adoptive father, Sandy, who was already in prison serving time for his white collar crime, showed investigators where he had buried the child near property owned by his family, reported WBTV.
A judge approved transportation of Parsons from prison to help locate the body. They uncovered the girl's remains in a shallow grave, the warrant said.
Both adoptive parents have been charged with first-degree murder, child abuse, concealment of death, and obstruction of justice, according to local station WBTV.
According to the Charlotte Observer, authorities and experts say that the couple repeatedly inflicted "torture" on the teen.
Sandy Parsons admitted he locked Erica in a closet, beat her "with belt buckle" and bent her fingers back and choked her, according to the Observer.
An autopsy report on Erica's body found the teenager had died of "homicidal violence of undetermined means" and may have suffered blunt force injury, strangulation or suffocation.
The report also said she had been abused over a lengthy amount of time and was malnourished.
During a 2015 trial, the Parsons' oldest biological son James told the court he and the family's other children would regularly abuse Erica - at times on the advice of their mother. He even admitted to breaking her arm during one incident.
Sheriff Auten said those in the local community think the Parsons should have been "hung on the square", however, he said the couple would have their day in court and "we'll let a jury decide their fate".