The adoptive parents of Erica Parsons, a girl who was thought last seen in 2011 but not reported missing until 2013, have been charged with murder in North Carolina.
Casey and Sandy Parsons were handed first-degree murder charges, along with child abuse charges, felony concealment of death and felony obstruction of justice, after the Rowan County Grand Jury met earlier this week.
Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten said that the charges had been "a long time coming", noting that Saturday would have been Erica's 20th birthday, WBTV reported.
The indictments against Casey and Sandy say that they intentionally inflicted "serious bodily harm, broken and fractured bones which resulted in permanent and protracted condition that causes extreme pain, on Erica Lynn Parsons, who was approximately 12 to 13 years old at the time".
They also claim that the couple "did knowingly and willfully dismember and destroy human remains of Erica Lynn Parsons".
Erica was reported missing by her adoptive brother in 2013, though she had actually been missing since 2011. Casey and Sandy Parsons said in 2013 that Erica had gone to live with her grandmother but investigators said that her grandmother had died years before and names given to them did not exist.
An autopsy report from the Chief Medical Examiner was released in early January 2018, over a year after her bones were found by authorities in South Carolina.
In it, the medical examiner notes that several family members had reported that the child was "subjected to longstanding physical and emotional abuse by her adoptive parents", including beatings with a belt buckle, being choked, having her hand slammed in a door, her fingers being bent all the way back and being forced to eat dog food and sleep in a closet.
The report said that though the time it took to find the bones had made it harder to determine a cause of death, fractures were "consistent with multiple blunt force injuires over a prolonged period" and other signs pointed to malnourishment.
In conclusion, the report's authors noted that they believed the cause of death to be "homicidal violence of undetemined means".
Both Casey and Sandy Parsons are already behind bars serving sentences for federal fraud. "This case has weighed on us pretty heavy, we did not want to leave a little girl out there, we wanted to bring her home," Sheriff Auten said.