SALISBURY, N.C. -- As the search for Erica Parsons dragged on for years, her paternal aunt decided to hire a private investigator to help find her niece.
Tuesday, Teresa Goodman says she received the news she didn't want to hear.
"She's very emotional," said David Marshburn of Marshburn Investigation Agency. "I think she's relieved to some point, she's very emotional."
Goodman hired Marshburn in 2015 after the Rowan County Sheriff and FBI came up empty. Marshburn had worked on another well-publicized missing person's case, the disappearance of Kelli Bordeux. He took this case pro-bono.
Goodman never got to meet her niece, who was given away for adoption as a baby to Casey and Sandy Parsons. However, she can't help but get over their striking resemblance and hoped to come face to face with the girl one day.
"You always hang on that little bit of hope that she could be alive, she could be alive and you know she didn't get to know Erica, she didn't get a chance," said Marshburn.
Erica was last seen alive in November 2011 when she was 13. Her adoptive parents claimed they dropped her off with her biological grandmother, who took her to Asheville. Two-and-a-half years went by before she was reported missing by her brother.
Her whereabouts remained a mystery until her adoptive father Sandy led investigators to her grave on his family's farm in Chesterfield County Tuesday. Testing has since confirmed the remains are of Erica Parson.
Marshburn says he was in the area just three months ago, following up on leads.
"Rowan County, I feel like great, they got her, they found her. It was horrific they found her the way she was, everybody was thinking that maybe she would be alive but I knew from day one coming into this the inevitable was going to be there," he said.
"I just think that it could've been done a lot quicker because we were working on that area," he said.
Marshburn did say he informed the Rowan County Sheriff's Office about his suspicious, especially the similarities between the farmhouse and the one Casey Parson's described to investigators as where she dropped off Erica back in 2011.
Both Casey and Sandy Parsons are in federal prison serving time for fraud for collecting benefits intended for Erica. However, Marshburn is certain that they are responsible for Erica's death.
"From day one," he declared.
The Parsonses are accused of subjecting Erica to harsh abuse and punishment. Marshburn says he wasn't surprised that it was Erica's adoptive father who helped investigators find her remains.
"Sandy, I think wanted to tell from the get-go of what happened," he said.
However, he is concerned that his assistance to authorities could lead to a plea deal for less prison time.
"The system failed her the first time with social services, and now ,if they cut any type of deal, the system has failed her twice and that's a shame," he declared.
Erica's biological father passed away earlier this year. Her aunt, Teresa, says she wishes she would have known her niece was in trouble. She says she would have raised her as her own.
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