Courtesy Rowan County Sheriff's Office
ASHEVILLE, N.C. (ACT) - Authorities are trying to find a missing teenage girl from Salisbury who may have been staying in Asheville.
Investigators with the Rowan County Sheriff's Office and the Asheville Police Department say they have no clue about the whereabouts of 15-year-old Erica Lynn Parsons.
The girl has been missing since November 2011, but her disappearance was only reported a little more than a week ago, on July 30.
Her adoptive parents contend they believed she was staying with relatives in Asheville, and they didn't report anything to police because they didn't consider her missing. Her 20-year-old brother filed a missing person report after moving out of the family's home a few weeks ago.
Rowan investigators contacted Asheville police this week, Asheville police Sgt. Dave Romick said. Local officers are not actively working the case but are staying in touch with detectives in Rowan, he said.
He called the circumstances - including the length of time the girl was missing before it was reported - "extremely odd."
He said he couldn't speculate about whether the girl might be in danger.
Erica's adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons of Salisbury, could not be reached for comment. But their attorney, Carlyle Sherrill of Salisbury, said the couple had been grilled by Rowan detectives in recent days, though no charges have been filed. Investigators are misguided in their efforts, Sherrill said.
"My clients have no reason to believe she's in danger," Sherrill said. "The sheriff's department has been acting on this with a fertile imagination."
Sandy and Casey Parsons, who adopted Erica when she was a baby, were contacted by the girl's birth mother several years ago, Sherrill said. The mother, also a Salisbury resident, told the couple she had relatives in Asheville that she wanted Erica to get to know, and requested that the teen be allowed to travel to Asheville to stay with them.
"My clients allowed her to go to Asheville and stay with them awhile," Sherrill said. "They wanted to see the child and establish a relationship."
Erica made two trips to Asheville and returned home to Salisbury each time, but during a third trip indicated she wanted to stay permanently with her relatives in Asheville, Sherrill said.
In a February 2012 telephone conversation between Erica and her parents, "She let them know in no uncertain terms that she didn't want to come back," Sherrill said.
When the Parsonses tried to track down the Asheville relatives, they couldn't be found.
"What my clients were told their names were, evidently that's not who they were," Sherrill said.
During each visit to Asheville, the Parsonses would meet the Asheville relatives in Mooresville to hand the child off, so they never went to an Asheville home, Sherrill said.
He said he doesn't know the birth mother's name but was told she recently moved to Louisiana.
"It seems to me they (sheriff's detectives) should be asking her about this," he said.
Erica was reported missing by her brother, James Parsons, who Sherrill said was unhappy with his parents after they forced him to move out of their home.
Sherrill said James Parsons "had to move out of the house because he has repeatedly assaulted people in the house, especially his mother."
Rowan sheriff's officials could not be reached for comment.
Erica is described as being small in stature, about 4-feet-5 inches tall and weighing 85-90 pounds. She has brown hair and brown eyes.
Anyone with information about her should call the Rowan County Sheriff's Office at 704-216-8687. Asheville police can be reached at 252-1110.