ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - A Rowan County community celebrated the 16th birthday of a missing teenager with the hope she will someday come home.
Erica Parsons disappeared more than two years ago at the age of 13, but no one reported her missing until July 2013 when her adoptive brother James Parsons called the Rowan County Sheriff's Office.
Family friends celebrated Monday by tying balloons and a poster to the fence in front of Erica's former home in Salisbury.
"This is a child that's missing, and I think anybody, any community would come together to help find that child," said friend Tonya Beemster.
Beemster told Channel 9 that her birthday wish for Erica is to get answers about her disappearance in November 2011.
"I just wish the parents would come forward and tell investigators where Erica is. This child needs to be brought home," Beemster said.
Erica's adoptive parents, Casey and Sandy Parsons, told investigators the teen went to live with her biological grandmother, Irene "Nan" Goodman, at a farm outside of Asheville.
But law enforcement authorities have said Goodman does not exist and the story is not true.
In January, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Rowan County Sheriff's Office renewed their request for help from the public in Erica's case by increasing the reward for information about her disappearance to $25,000.
Family friend Amy Miller spoke to Eyewitness News by phone Monday and said the birthday celebrations are bittersweet.
"I'm just thinking about how she should be celebrating her birthday with her friends. Her excitement of getting her driver’s license, and all the things that 16-year-old girls do," Miller said.
Monday night, Breakthrough Faith Church in Kannapolis also held a birthday celebration, with a candlelight vigil and a clothing and canned-food drive for the needy.
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