SALISBURY, N.C. -- Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten said in a news conference Monday that he believes Erica Parsons was dead long before she was reported missing in 2013.
Parsons' remains were found last week in a shallow grave in Chesterfield County, South Carolina. Auten said Parsons' adoptive father, Sandy Parsons, led detectives straight to the body.
Sandy Parsons and his wife Casey Parsons are currently in federal prison, serving sentences related to Erica's disappearance, but not to her death. Both are accused of collecting benefits meant for Erica, even after she was no longer with them.
Auten said a turning point in the case happened in July and August of this year, when Sandy Parsons began speaking with investigators from federal prison.
Auten said no one has been charged in Erica's death and also said Sandy was not offered any kind of plea deal or promise to lead investigators to the body.
"We're glad to have found Erica," Auten said. "We're going to get her to a good resting spot. And then we're going to continue to seek justice. We're going to see this case through and get it finished."
Auten said the case, which has now spanned multiple lead investigators over multiple years, took an emotional toll on everyone at the department.
"Everybody involved in this case has children," he said. "It touches you. I was there at the grave site when her body was recovered and I'll tell you there's some pretty tough officers that had a pretty tough time. It's worn on all of us."
Auten said he's hopeful that the full report from the Medical Examiner can provide more details into Parsons' death.