The mother of a 6-year-old girl went missing in late September, and a convicted murderer recently released from prison is under arrest after her body was found in a canal behind his girlfriend’s mobile home, police in Florida said.
Erika Verdecia, 33, was last seen alive in Sunrise on Sept. 24. Four days later, her mother, Carmen, filed a missing person’s report.
After using social media in an attempt to find out information about her daughter’s whereabouts, Carmen learned from Verdecia’s friends police stopped a vehicle she was a passenger in and Eric Pierson was driving on the morning of Sept. 25, WFOR-TV reported.
According to Pierson, after the traffic stop the pair went to a gas station and Verdecia told him to meet her at a Wendy’s in the area and walked away. Pierson claimed that was the last time he saw her, police wrote in an arrest report.
Investigators, however, pulled surveillance footage from the gas station that allegedly shows Pierson fueled up prior to police pulling his car over and Verdecia never appeared in surveillance video obtained from the Wendy’s restaurant, authorities noted.
On Oct. 15, Pierson allowed investigators to search his truck, and forensic testing allegedly turned up signs of what investigators presumed was blood on the vehicle’s rear passenger side.
The arrest report alleges Pierson’s girlfriend phone police and said she noticed Pierson for weeks was acting oddly, his truck’s rear floormats were gone, and debris and rocks were piling up in a canal behind her home. She also allegedly claimed Pierson told her that “If they don’t find a body, they don’t have a case.”
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A dive team recovered Verdecia’s body from the canal on Oct. 16, and Pierson allegedly confessed to fatally stabbing Verdecia with a screwdriver twice in the neck and in each eye the day of the traffic stop, the police report states.
WPLG reported Pierson claimed he killed Verdecia in self-defense.
Pierson, who was released in September 2020 after serving 27 years of a 40-year sentence for killing a 17-year-old girl, now faces a charge of first-degree murder for Pierson’s death, according to WFOR-TV.
WPLG reported Pierson was also convicted of attempted first-degree murder and sentenced to 18 years behind bars in 1985 and served a total of four years.
“Although this tragic news does not bring Erika back to her family and friends, we hope that it can bring some closure to her loved ones,” Sunrise police said of Pierson's arrest.
“She didn’t deserve this,” Carmen Verdecia told WPLG. “She wasn’t that kind of person. Why is this killer on the street? Why did the justice system fail us?”
The victim’s mother said she did not know how her daughter met Pierson. Loved ones have set up a GoFundMe to help cover the costs of Verdecia’s burial.
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