Man holds on to hope for missing teen

Man holds on to hope for missing teen 
25 December 2013
 Catherine Bilkey
Rowan County, N.C. 

Investigators believe that a missing Rowan County teenager is dead, according to court papers Eyewitness News obtained Tuesday, but the grim statement has not shaken one man's resolve. This Christmas, Brian Young is planning a fifth vigil for Parsons. "We're just trying to keep Erica right on our hearts, right on our mind all the time," Young said. "There's a lot of broken-hearted people out there that really love her. She's become like family to us." Young never met Parsons, but he's written a song about the missing girl and threw a Christmas party for her Sunday. "We did a Christmas for Erica. It was just for her," he said. A warrant filed at the courthouse showed investigators believe Parsons may be dead. "I'm not losing hope. She's alive to me right now," Young said. But in the warrant filed late Monday, investigators said that three of four K-9s alerted that there were possible human remains near a red shed on her grandparent's property in October. In November, another dog alerted for the presence of human remains, according to investigators. Eyewitness News was told that only Parson's adoptive parents Casey and Sandy Parsons had access to that shed.
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Sheriff: Cadaver Dogs Alerted To Possible Human Remains In Erica Parsons Case

Sheriff: Cadaver Dogs Alerted To Possible Human Remains In Erica Parsons Case
24 December 2013

There is new information in the search for missing Rowan County teenager Erica Parsons.

Sheriff Kevin Auten told WBTV cadaver dogs indicated the possible presence of human remains on property owned by Erica's adoptive grandfather. WBTV says search warrants show dogs alerted investigators in October and November.

According to WBTV, that information was turned into court Monday.

In August, investigators searched a storage building on the grandfather's property and found teeth, a hammer, a video tape, pieces of a vacuum cleaner and school records.

Investigators also found red stains on a pair of pants and drywall after a 12-hour search in Erica's adoptive parents' home.

Erica's stepbrother, James, reported his sister missing at the end of July. But he said nobody has seen her since November 2011.

The Rowan County Sheriff's Office and TV talk-show host Dr. Phil partnered in August to offer a $15,000 reward for information about Erica's disappearance.
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N.C. farm searched in hunt for missing teen

N.C. farm searched in hunt for missing teen
24 December 2013

Police have searched a North Carolina farm belonging to a relative of a missing girl, court documents revealed this week.

The search took place last month and was the second time authorities had looked over the farm in Rowan County belonging to the adoptive grandfather of Erica Parsons, 15, who has not been seen since November 2011.

Rowan County sheriff's investigators and the FBI served the warrant Nov. 14, but the affidavit was not returned to court until Monday, the Salisbury (N.C.) Post said Tuesday.

The warrant was based on an October visit investigators accompanied by cadaver dogs had paid to the farm. The affidavit said the canines signaled the possible presence of human remains.

The farm is owned by the missing girl's adoptive grandfather; however, an out building where the cadaver dog alerted belongs to Erica's adoptive parents.

The Post said people who know the family have told authorities the parents were abusive. Deputies have said the family has not been cooperating in the search for Erica.

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Possible human remains found in Parsons case

Possible human remains found in Parsons case staff
24 December 2013

There are new developments in the search for a missing Rowan County teenager.

Cadaver dogs indicated the possible presence of human remains at the property of Erica Parsons' adoptive grandfather, the Salisbury Post reports.

The paper says documents returned to the court Monday show cadaver dogs alerted handlers on two separate occasions to something at the red storage shed on the property.

The shed was owned by Erica’s adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons.

Erica was first reported missing by her brother over summer, but hasn’t been seen since November 2011.
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Casey Parsons: "This is so crazy"

Casey Parsons: "This is so crazy" that cadaver dogs alerted possible human remains in Parsons case
Dec 23, 2013 / Updated: Dec 25, 2013
Brigida Mack

The adoptive mother of missing teen Erica Parsons is reacting to news that a cadaver dog alerted to the possible presence of human remains while searching for clues in the case of missing Rowan County teen.

In an email to WBTV, Casey Parsons said "This is so crazy. This is why no one has found Erica, because no one is searching for an "alive" Erica."

Erica Parsons is the teenager who was first reported missing in late July by her adoptive brother, although her adoptive family hadn't seen her since 20-11.

Her adoptive parents insist she went to live with her biological grandmother, although investigators say that woman does not exist.

The cadaver dogs made the discovery in October and November at a property owned by Erica's adoptive grandfather.

Erica's birth mother Carolyn Parsons reacted to the news by telephone.

"All they had to do was give my little girl back to me January the 5th, 2011 like the original plan that we discussed," she said.

The warrant was served November 14 but was turned in to court late Monday afternoon.

Casey and Sandy Parsons stored items inside a shed on that property. Investigators seized those items - including human teeth - in October.

In the affidavit supporting the search warrant, an investigator stated probable cause for searching the shed.

He wrote "during the course of the investigation no credible leads as to the location of Erica Parsons has been discovered. The case received national attention in the media and with this attention no credible information has been received indicating Erica Parsons is living elsewhere."

Detectives say "the investigation began to explore the possibilities that Erica Parsons may be deceased and her remains concealed at a yet unknown location."

Search warrants in the case show evidence to be seized included "knives, edge weapons, sticks, blunt force objects, other tools or weapons; tape, rope, or other restraint and binding material."

Investigators seized a board and a jacket.

They say a K-9 trained to detect human remains "alerted on the red building twice, which indicates the presence of human remains."

In her email to WBTV, Casey Parsons wrote, "The search on that property was awhile ago. Don't you think if they had found something I wouldn't be sitting here answering emails."

For the last five months investigators have been searching for evidence in the teen's disappearance.

According to the attorney representing Casey and Sandy Parsons, federal agents wanted to question Casey Parsons on December 13th when she was in hospital.

Attorney Carlyle Sherrill said Casey Parsons was about to have surgery when two agents arrived.

"And when the FBI showed up, the doctor sort of changed plans and did examine her but canceled the procedure and by the time Casey was released, the FBI agents were gone" said Attorney Sherrill

Attorney Sherrill said the Parsons still don't know what specifically the agents wanted to discuss.

Meanwhile Carolyn Parsons thanked supporters from across the county who have contacted her over the past few months.

"Thanks for the prayers and support for Erica, the prayers and support for me, and y'all have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year," she said.
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Why did it take police a week to find her?

Why did it take police a week to find her?
Met were forced to apologise to Tia's family after FOUR searches failed to spot her body in grandmother's loft
13 May 2013
Daily Mail
Chris Greenwood, Tom Kelly and Eleanor Harding

Eighty police failed to find Tia’s body even though it lay only a few feet from her bedroom in her grandmother’s house.

They spent a week scouring hundreds of hours of CCTV and at least a dozen officers, with dogs, searched the house no fewer than four times.

But astonishing blunders meant the 12-year-old’s body remained undiscovered at the small property in Croydon, South London.

By the time it was recovered, when the stench of decomposition was overwhelming, it was so badly damaged that she could only be identified by dental records.

The blunder means vital evidence was lost and her family will never know the full circumstances of her death.

Relatives said they are haunted by the thought that she was lying abandoned above them as the country was transfixed by the mystery of her disappearance.

Speaking last night, Tia’s grandfather Paul Sharp, said: ‘I’m disgusted that the police officers didn’t find the body.

Stuart Hazell, 37 changed his plea half-way through his Old Bailey trial and admitted killing the 12-year-old

‘They should have known she never left that house - people would have seen her.'

He added: ‘The body was unrecognisable when they found it.

'That’s how badly decomposed it was. They had to do a dental check on her.

‘I don’t understand how they couldn’t smell it.

'The whole house must have stunk.’

Police only found Tia’s body tightly wrapped in plastic bin liners in the tiny loft space during a fifth search.

Officers complained they were hampered because they feared falling through the unboarded ceiling and the space was hot and uncomfortable.

Earlier searches not only missed Tia, but a wealth of other evidence, including her damaged glasses, because officers thought bags holding them were ‘too light’ to be significant.

They blamed police procedure as the officers were on a missing person inquiry and looking for someone who was alive.

The first ‘brief examination’ of the house was undertaken by local officers on August 3, the day Tia was reported missing.

The second, a more thorough check, was carried out the next day by two sergeants and two PCs.

Among them was Sgt Keith Lyons who told the jury that Hazell helped him, providing a chair and telling him - chillingly - that he ‘always’ used it to access the loft.

Sgt Lyons spent five minutes searching with his torch in the unlit loft.

He said: ‘My legs were dangling down. ‘I know I’m clumsy and I was concerned I was going to go through the roof.

‘I was surprised how clear it was. I expected there to be much more junk.

‘I was searching for a missing girl and from what I could see the loft seemed very clear. I thought ‘she is not hiding in here.’

In the early hours of the following morning a specialist team, comprised of a sergeant and five PCs, carried out a third search.

PC Steven Jeffries, one of the officers involved, said: ‘I have never searched a loft before and I didn’t want to cause any damage.’

The officers spent 25 minutes searching, including moving black bags around that the team believed did not contain anything significant.

On a fourth search of the house on August 8 a specially trained dog also signalled towards the ceiling under the loft.

But officers decided it was not necessary to check again as it had been searched before and the animal was too big to put in the loft safely.

It took another two days, until officers noticed a stench in rooms at the top of the house, for Tia to be found.

A so-called ‘cadaver dog’, trained to detect the smell of decomposition, indicated that it was coming from the loft.

This time, after removing an overfilled bin bag, officers found Tia wrapped in a ‘body shaped package’ within three feet of the hatch.

Unlike the other items it was dust free and her big toe was sticking out through the plastic wrapping.

DC Daniel Chatfield said: ‘The loft was extremely confined. It was very hot and quite chaotic. After approximately 10 minutes the body was found .

‘My colleague alerted me to what he believed to be the body of Tia. On the side nearest to me I could see a foot. I could reach her ankles with my arms, it was three foot away at most.’

The missing girl was identified through DNA testing and dental records. A pathologist could not find a definitive cause of death.

Also in the loft was a cardboard box containing two other plastic bags, one with Tia’s yellow top and leggings and another with sweet wrappers and her broken glasses.

Met Commander Neil Basu, who was responsible for finding Tia, insisted the murder victim’s body was ‘well concealed’.

He said a review found ‘human error’ in how the searches were conducted and managed was to blame for the extraordinary mistake.

He added that the PC who first searched the loft was ‘inexperienced’ and he was given ‘words of advice’, the lowest form of disciplinary sanction.

The officer has since volunteered to stop undertaking searches.

His sergeant, who was responsible for supervising the search, also received ‘words of advice’.

Cmdr Basu said: ‘Both officers are devastated by their failure to find Tia and this case has deeply affected all those involved.

‘The Met apologised to Tia’s family as soon as it became apparent that her body had been missed.

‘While the police failure did not contribute to Tia’s death, the Met deeply regrets that this error caused additional distress to Tia’s family by prolonging the situation when it could have been brought to an earlier conclusion.’

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Craigslist victim’s son testifies about last time he saw father

Tim Kern
Craigslist victim’s son testifies about last time he saw father
Beacon Journal
Ed Meyer
28 February 2013

Nicholas Kern last saw his father on a Saturday night, when Timothy Kern visited the home of his ex-wife in Plain Township to pick up an old television for an important trip he was about to make to southern Ohio.
His father needed some money, so Nick Kern said he lent him $20.

It was Nov. 12, 2011, and Tim Kern was finalizing plans to meet the man who had given him what he thought was a new job, for $300 per week and a place to live, as caretaker of a large farm in Noble County.

Kern, 47, never made it there.

On the fourth day of prosecution testimony in the capital murder trial of Richard James Beasley of Akron, Nick Kern, 19, calmly told a Summit County jury how he and his father parted ways.

He testified that a friend picked him up that Saturday night at his mother’s home, and some time later, he sent a text to his dad wishing him good luck and telling him “that I loved him.”

The next morning Tim Kern sent his son, who was sleeping in, a text with the same loving message. Nick Kern said he never heard from his father again.

Investigators in the so-called Craigslist murder case eventually learned Kern was shot to death that same day, Nov. 13, 2011, soon after meeting his “new employer” at the old Rolling Acres Mall off Romig Road in Akron.

Kern’s body was found in woods behind the mall nearly two weeks later, on Nov. 25 — after the FBI had traced cellphone calls and arrested Beasley as a murder suspect.

Ed Staley Jr., a crime-scene investigator for the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, testified that about 50 officers searched the woods and found the body in a hand-dug pit with the help of a cadaver dog.

Dr. Lisa J. Kohler, chief Summit County medical examiner, told the jury that Kern had multiple gunshot wounds to the head. His name was found imprinted on the inside of his upper dentures, she said.

Multiple charges

Beasley, 53, is charged with three counts of aggravated murder and other crimes. Prosecutors have said he preyed on his victims — four men down on their luck and out of work — after they responded to his ad on Craigslist for the bogus farm job.

The body of Ralph Geiger, 56, of Akron, was discovered in a shallow grave near a country road in Noble County on the same day Kern’s body was found in southwest Akron.

Geiger was the first victim. He was shot Aug. 9, 2011.

David Pauley, 51, of Norfolk, Va., was the next victim. He was shot Oct. 23, and his body was found, some three weeks later, near the same country road.

Lone survivor

The third shooting victim, Scott Davis, 50, was the lone survivor. He previously testified that he ran for his life and got away after Beasley shot him in the right elbow in the same wooded area where the bodies of Geiger and Pauley were found.

Davis gave investigators much of the information that led them to Beasley and his young co-defendant, Brogan Rafferty, of Stow, who was 16 at the time of the crimes.

Late last year, Rafferty was convicted of three counts of aggravated murder. He was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole.

Beasley’s lead attorney, James L. Burdon, told the jury in opening statements the government will not be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt.

“There is no witness that this defendant committed any of those murders, period,” Burdon said.

Prosecutors on Thursday continued to present their substantial circumstantial evidence.

Son testifies

Nick Kern testified that he used his mother’s vehicle to drive his dad to the job interview with his “new employer,” because his dad’s car, an old Buick, often did not start.

The interview was Nov. 9, 2011, at the Waffle House on Arlington Road in Akron. They were supposed to be looking for a man with a red cap and an American flag on it, Nick Kern said.

Three Ohio men previously testified they also discussed the farm job in interviews at Akron’s Chapel Hill Mall. All three identified Beasley in open court as the person who conducted the interviews.

George Brown of Doylestown, the last of the three to testify about his job interview, told the jury that the man he talked to at Chapel Hill was wearing “a red flag cap.”

Beasley’s arrest occurred near the corner of Gridley and Johnston streets in Akron, according to testimony, following an FBI stakeout. At that time, he was renting a room from a woman, Penny Rose Kaufman, who owned a home in the 400 block of Gridley Street.

Kaufman testified Thursday afternoon that she rented out the room on Nov. 1, 2011, to a man who told her his name was Ralph Geiger. She then identified Beasley, seated at the defense table in a wheelchair, as the man who used Geiger’s name.

When asked whether she recalled seeing that same man using a wheelchair at her home on Gridley, she told the prosecutor: “No.”

Beasley’s trial continues today in Common Pleas Judge Lynne Callahan’s courtroom.
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Officers who missed Tia's body in grandmother's New Addington home will not face sack

Officers who missed Tia's body in grandmother's New Addington home will not face sack
November 20, 2012
Croydon Today

TWO bungling police officers who failed to find Tia Sharp's body while they searched her grandmother's New Addington home will not face the sack, a Met source has revealed.

The constable and "supervising" sergeant – part of a team of officers who scoured the loft because sniffer dogs were not trained to – have received a "minor" telling off, despite the blunders making it harder for experts to establish the 12-year-old's cause of death.

Tia's remains were missed during three searches, which has since led to one of the officer's being pulled from specialist search duties. The first bungled search, two days after she went missing, delayed finding the body for five days.

A police source told the Advertiser: "It is the most minor form of discipline. This is at the bottom of the scale.

"It's like when you go to court, you can get life imprisonment or you can get an absolute discharge. It is a telling off but it's a minor one. Nobody's job is at threat."

The source added: "It strikes me as odd, that when a policeman makes a mistake people want to sack him, but when a news reader gets their lines wrong nobody complains.

"Part of frontline operations is you're going to make mistakes. The constable has been taken off [search] duties but I don't know what's happened to the supervising sergeant."

The source explained dogs were not taken into the loft, where the schoolgirl's body was found, because they are not trained to walk along the narrow joists and soft flooring typical of roof spaces. "Their feet would go straight through the floor," they said.

In August we reported how forensic pathologist Dr Stuart Hamilton suspects the Met blunders will have "absolutely" contributed to a post-mortem's failure to find how and why Tia died, making it harder to prove she was murdered in court.

Despite anger within sections of the community over the bungles, New Addington councillor Tony Pearson said tougher disciplinary action against the officers is not necessary.

He said: "It will never change the investigation. It was difficult for everyone concerned and the key for the family is to make sure there is justice for Tia, not to have a witch hunt on individuals."

But changes have since been made to the force's official guidelines since her body was found in The Lindens roof space, wrapped in a sheet and plastic bag, on August 10.

A Met spokesman said: "Two officers, a PC and a PS [sergeant] have received words of advice.

"A number of organisational learning points were identified which will be taken forward with the aim of reducing any similar errors occurring in future."

Stuart Hazell, the boyfriend of Tia's grandmother Christine Sharp, has been charged with the schoolgirl's murder and will appear at the Old Bailey to enter a plea later this year. Christine Sharp remains on bail after being arrested on suspicion of murder.

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Cadaver dogs might play role in 1990 murder case

Cadaver dogs might play role in 1990 murder case
Judge's ruling clears way for animals' handlers to testify

October 5, 2012
Chicago Tribune
Clifford Ward, Special to the Tribune

A Kane County judge ruled Thursday that prosecutors in a 1990 murder case could use testimony based on the use of dogs trained to find human remains, perhaps the first time such evidence has been found admissible in a state case.

Judge Timothy Sheldon's ruling could clear the way for dog handlers to provide corroborating evidence in the case of Aurelio Montano, a former Aurora resident and convicted double-murderer who is awaiting trial in the slaying of his wife, Guadalupe Montano.

Prosecutors want to present testimony that the so-called cadaver dogs showed signs that they had detected human remains on a DuPage County farm where prosecutors allege Montano buried his wife after strangling her in July 1990.

Other states have approved testimony over cadaver dogs at trial, and Illinois courts have upheld the use of evidence obtained by drug-sniffing dogs in narcotics prosecutions. But Kane prosecutors said they could find no Illinois state case law supporting the use of dogs that detect human remains.

The judge's ruling came after several hours of testimony from Susan Stejskal, a Michigan resident with a doctorate in toxicology who has trained cadaver dogs and written a book on the subject. Dogs, she testified, rely on their sense of smell, which is substantially better than a person's.

The average human might have 5 million sensory receptors for smell, compared with 300 million for a bloodhound, she said.

"We can't smell the detail the dogs can," Stejskal said.

That ability means dogs can be reliably trained to detect the presence of human decomposition, she said, and conversely, taught to disregard odors of decomposition from other animals.

Prosecutors say cadaver dogs alerted their handlers to the presence of human remains on a Hobson Road horse farm where Montano allegedly buried his wife's body. Montano's brother worked there in 1990 and reportedly told relatives that he helped his brother bury the body, according to court documents.

Convinced that his wife was unfaithful, Montano allegedly strangled Guadalupe, authorities said. He then rolled up her body in a rug, which he placed in his pickup truck and drove to the farm, police allege.

In December 2007, Aurora police conducted a forensic dig at the farm and recovered pieces of a rug. Family members identified it as the rug from the Montano home. Three cadaver dogs sniffed the remnant and gave positive alerts for the presence of human remains, according to court documents.

The farm dig, however, did not produce the victim's body. Other family members reported to police that Montano exhumed his wife's body about four months after she was killed. Her body has never been recovered.

A nephew of Montano's told police that about a year after Guadalupe disappeared, he and Montano were having drinks at Montano's home. Montano, the nephew said, took him into the garage, where he produced a plastic grocery bag that he said contained body parts of his wife, according to authorities.

The nephew, who said he feared Montano, said his uncle placed the bag in the trunk of the nephew's car, and they drove off.

"At some point, the defendant told (the nephew) to stop, get out and dispose of the bag," according to court documents.

Montano was not charged with his wife's murder until 2008. By then, he was serving a life sentence after being convicted of participating in the 1996 drug-related murders of a Texas couple who were hanged in the basement of an Aurora house that Montano was restoring.
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Expert testifies that cadaver dog gave signals about toddler in D'Andre Lane's car, house

Expert testifies that cadaver dog gave signals about toddler in D'Andre Lane's car, house
4 October 2012
Detroit Free Press Staff Writers
Tammy Stables Battaglia and Melanie Scott Dorsey

A cadaver dog with what handlers call near-perfect accuracy passed 30 cars in an impound lot before alerting on a silver Mercury Grand Marquis driven by a Detroit father charged with killing his 2-year-old daughter.

But defense attorneys for D'Andre Lane, 32, questioned whether the dog's response was authentic because the body of Lane's daughter, Bianca Jones, has not been found.

Prosecutors said Lane, who is on trial in Wayne County County Circuit Court, killed Bianca after a potty-training accident and tried to cover it up by calling police on Dec. 2 to report she was taken in a carjacking.

Police found Lane's car running several blocks away from the alleged carjacking site, but the toddler was missing. Prosecutors say the child is presumed dead.

Dog handler and FBI contractor Martin Grime testified during Lane's trial Wednesday that he and his two English springer spaniels -- Morse and Keela --flew from England to Washington, D.C., then drove to Detroit on Dec. 4 to search for Bianca.

Local investigators took Grime and Morse, who is trained to detect decomposing human remains, to an enclosed garage at the Detroit Police Department's impound lot. Inside, he released Morse, leading him through a maze of 31 parked cars, including Lane's silver Mercury.

"He went underneath Mr. Lane's car then came out and barked ... like woof-woof-woof-woof-woof-woof-woof," Grime said, adding that he wasn't told that the silver Mercury was Lane's until after the search was complete.

"What was the response what you opened the door and the trunk, sir?" Assistant Prosecutor Carin Goldfarb asked.

"There was a positive response -- the dog barked continuously," he said, adding that the dog didn't bark at any other cars.

He said they then went to a Detroit Police Department evidence room, where investigators wrapped Bianca's car seat in brown paper and hid it in an office within a number of rooms.

Grime said there was no response during the first search, when the car seat was sealed inside the brown paper. He then asked officers to put a slit in the paper and move the car seat to another room.

"The second time, when the dog got close to the package, he put his nose in the package and gave a positive response," Grime said.

Investigators then set up a search in another warehouse using Bianca's blanket that had been in the car seat. Grime said the dog barked when it came across a brown paper bag on the floor with the blanket inside.

"Were you aware of where any of these items were going to be when Morse signaled on them?" Goldfarb asked,

"No," Grime said, adding that he can't force the dog to bark continuously and he never saw the actual car seat or blanket.

Grime said he then took Morse to Lane's house, where Morse sat and barked in Bianca's bedroom, close to the opening of a door-less closet.

"Have the results you've come up with ever been contradicted?" Judge Vonda Evans asked. He said no.

But Lane's attorney, Terry Johnson, raised questions about the dog's ability to detect decomposition during his cross-examination.

"You have no way of telling what Morse responded to at any location?" Johnson asked Grime.

"He gave us a positive response," Morse said. "The corroboration would normally be to find a cadaver or bone or blood that you can see."

"The dog did not give a positive response to the clothing worn by Mr. Lane, correct?" Johnson asked.

"No," Grime said.
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