SALISBURY, NC -- The Rowan County Sheriff's Office says it is getting closer to making an arrest in the recent discovery of Erica Parsons' remains.
Erica's body was found in a small grave on a dirt road about a mile south of Highway 9 between Pageland and Mount Croghan.
Rowan Co. Sheriff Kevin Auten held a news conference on Monday to give an update on the investigation.
Auten said the remains were transported to the medical examiners office in Raleigh, where on Friday, the remains were positively confirmed as Parsons' body.
Erica was reported missing by a relative on July 30, 2013. The relative advised investigators he had not seen Erica since November of 2011 when she was 13-years-old.
Auten said investigators believe Parsons was deceased long before she was reported missing in 2013.
"We believe, through this investigation, that Erica was deceased long before she was reported missing," said Auten. "Unfortunately, we never had the chance to find her alive which was always our goal and our hope."
The sheriff says Parsons' adoptive father, Sandy, led SBI agents to the site where Erica's remains were buried.
He was placed in custody in September -- but hasn't been officially charged with anything yet.
Auten says he hopes the medical examiner's reports on Erica's remains will give authorities the information they need to determine the proper charges to file.
"That's where we are hoping the medical examiner will soon give us information that will lead us to a decision on what charges are appropriate," said Auten. "At this time, we feel all of those charges will be a state matter here in Rowan county."
Auten was very clear to point out that no plea agreements and no promises have been made to anyone who may be a suspect or involved in this case.
At one point in the news conference, Auten was clearly emotional after this half-decade long investigation.
"It's been a very tough, difficult case for us. Everybody involved in this case has children. It touches you," he said. "I was there at the graveside when her body was recovered and I tell you, there are some pretty tough officers who had a pretty tough time."
Auten says the sheriff's office and the district attorney's office will continue to investigate this case thoroughly.
"We are getting there. We are not where we want to be with this case," said Auten. "We are glad to have found Erica. We are going to get her to a good resting spot and then we are going to continue to seek justice."
Auten was careful not to specifically name any suspects or mention what specific charges they could possibly face moving forward.
Funeral arrangements for Parsons are not yet finalized.
Lyerlys Funeral Home has donated their services for the funeral.
West Lawn Memorial Park has donated the plot for the funeral.
The public can donate to assist with the cost of Erica's grave marker and an angel for her grave site.
Auten says Erica loved angels!
Donations can be made to:
Prevent Child Abuse Rowan
130 Woodson Street
Salisbury, NC 28144 (Please make the notation of Erica's angel)