Sheriff on little girl’s murder: ‘This case has weighed on us’

North Carolina authorities announced Tuesday that the adoptive parents of a missing 13-year-old girl are now facing murder charges in connection with her disappearance and death.

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Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten said Casey and Sandy Parsons, the adoptive parents of Erica Parsons, will be charged with murder in the girl’s death, nearly five years after the girl was reported missing and some seven years after she disappeared.

A Rowan County grand jury indicted Casey and Sandy on charges of first-degree murder, felony child abuse inflicting serious bodily injury, felony concealment of death, and felony obstruction of justice, Auten said.

February 17 would have been Erica's 20th birthday.

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Erica's case has haunted the community since 2013, and Auten expressed pride when announcing authorities had gotten the break they had been waiting for that allowed murder charges to be brought forth.

"This case has weighed on us pretty heavy," the sheriff said during a news conference. "We just did not want to leave a little girl out there. We wanted to bring her home."

>> Related: Timeline: Erica Parsons case

Erica's adopted brother reported her missing in July 2013, but investigators discovered the Rowan County girl had not been seen since 2011.

Her remains were eventually discovered in September 2016 in rural Chesterfield County, South Carolina, and the horrific details of her autopsy were released last month.

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Casey and Sandy Parsons are both in federal prison, sentenced in 2015 for accepting Erica's federal benefits after she disappeared. Neither had been charged with her death until Tuesday.

The pair will be brought back to Rowan County sometime in the coming weeks to answer for the state charges.

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