2-Year Delay Before Adopted Teen Was Reported Missing

PHOTO: Erica Lynn Parsons was reported missing nearly two years after she was last seen, Salisbury, North Carolina, August 4, 2013.
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A North Carolina teen's adoptive family didn't report her missing until two years after she disappeared, but the family's attorney said they believed she was living with her birth family and wanted to be left alone.

Erica Lynn Parsons, who would now be 15 years old, was reported missing by her 19-year-old adoptive brother last week, according to Capt. John Sifford of the Rowan County Sheriff's Office.

Parsons was homeschooled, according to her family's attorney, Carlyle Sherrill, so she couldn't have been reported missing by her school.

The last known sighting of Erica was in November 2011 at her family's home in Salisbury, N.C., according to Sifford.

It was around that time that Erica's birth mother contacted her adoptive parents, Casey and Sandy Parsons, and said she wanted Erica to come and stay with her and some relatives of Erica's birth father for a while, Sherrill told ABCNews.com.

Erica called her adoptive parents a few months later and "made it known in no uncertain terms she didn't want to come back to be with them," Sherrill said.

"They looked at it as being a rebellious teenager. That was an attitude they took," Sherrill said. "I don't know that at any time it dawned on them she was a missing person."

Sherrill said he did not know the name of Parsons' birth mother.

Casey and Sandy Parsons were questioned by authorities and fully cooperated with what questions they were able to answer, Sherrill said.

He said the Parsonses are hopeful authorities will locate Erica so they can be left alone.

"They'd like to know where she is and if she's doing fine," Sherrill said. "If she's happy there, then they'd be accepting of it."

Parsons' grandparents, however, told ABC News' Charlotte affiliate WSOC-TV they are "so worried" about the girl's welfare.

"That is my fear, that something happened and nobody is telling us. I am not talking about the law, I am talking about my boy and daughter-in-law," said Steve Parsons, Erica's grandfather.

Authorities declined to release further information on the case, but did note on a missing persons flyer that Erica Parsons is "possibly in the Asheville, N.C., area."

Erica Parsons is described as 4 feet 5 and weighing between 85 and 90 pounds. Authorities said she has brown hair and brown eyes and is known to be small for her age.

It was not immediately clear whether Parsons' adoptive parents could be charged for the delay in reporting her missing.

North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory signed Caylee's Law in May, making it a felony to fail to report the disappearance of a child to law enforcement within 24 hours. For third parties who suspect a child is missing but fail to file a report, the penalty is a misdemeanor. The law will not go into effect until Dec. 1, 2013.

Anyone with information is asked to contact the Rowan County Sheriff's Office at 704-216-8700.

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