CHARLOTTTE, N.C. -- Thousands of people watched the footage of Federal Bureau of Investigations agents combing for clues in the home Erica Parsons once lived with her adoptive family.
Former FBI Assistant Director Chris Swecker was one of those people, watching the case unfold on his television at home.
"There are just too many holes in this story," said Swecker, who has no connection to the Erica Parsons investigation. "Even for the most hardened investigators, these are the cases that keep us up at night."
While Swecker is not involved in the Parsons case, he has worked on many similar missing persons cases in the past during his long career with the FBI.
He said right now, agents' main goal is to locate Erica, but are building a case with evidence and interviews as well.
"They are creating a timeline, chasing down any lead that comes their way. No matter how remote, how bizarre that lead may be, they will follow up on it. In missing chilren cases, if they are not found in the first 24 hours, you need to be looking for them in the first 24 to 48 hours. They didn't even report it for two years; putting this investigation at an extreme disadvantage and creating suspicion from the very start."
Swecker noted Erica's adoptive parents, Sandy and Casey Parsons, have been repeatedly questioned by agents, which he noted was "a little bit strange in this case, because you would think by now all the details would be on the table."
The former agent said the investigators are likely building a strong case based on tiny changes in their stories, many of which have been broadcast in television interviews the parents have done over the past few weeks.
Swecker said the fact the Parsonses appeared to have packed up and moved out of their Salisbury home Tuesday is a red flag.
"It's a strange move at this point. If they are really sincere about getting Erica back, if she's out there somewhere, you would think they would stay put. They can't get away from the FBI."
Swecker noted the Parsonses have already admitted to committing a federal crime. They received state benefits each month for Erica, because they adopted a child with special needs.
The Parsonses said they continued to collect those benefits while Erica was gone, claiming they didn't want her to lose the benefits if she returned.
"There can be a federal violation around benefits fraud, even one single case, with one single family like this one," said Swecker, "as long as they continue an open dialogue with the FBI they can likely avoid any charges related to the benefits."
Swecker added the potential for federal fraud charges could later act as a bargaining chip for the agents.