Body of Missing Fla. Mom Found in Canal, Convicted Murderer Released in 2020 Allegedly Confesses

Erika Verdecia leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter

Erika Verdecia
Erika Verdecia. Photo: Facebook

A convicted murderer who was released last year has been accused of killing a Florida mother who went missing last month.

Eric Pierson is behind bars in Broward County Jail on a first-degree murder charge in connection with the death of 33-year-old Erika Verdecia, according to jail records. Pierson was taken into custody Saturday, hours after Verdecia's body was found in a canal near Fort Lauderdale.

"We now have in custody Eric Pierson, who has confessed to the murder of Erika Verdecia," the Sunrise Police Department tweeted. "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."

Verdecia, a mother to a young daughter, was last seen alive on the afternoon of Sept. 24, according to a police news release. Her disappearance was described as "out of character."

Her family said that despite their concern, police did not immediately issue a missing persons report for Verdecia.

"Three, four, five, six days the police telling me she could be anywhere. No, this is not what my daughter would do," Verdecia's mother, Carmen Verdecia, told NBC 6.

When a friend told Carmen they had last seen her daughter with a man named Eric Pierson, the concerned mother searched his name on the internet and discovered he had been convicted in the past for murdering a women in 1993 and attacking another in 1985, CBS News reports.

He was released from prison in September 2020 after serving 27 years of a 40-year sentence for murder.

"I flipped out," Carmen recalled, NBC 6 reports. "I told [the police] my daughter was seen with a killer. And then they started looking for her. But it was too late."

Eric Pierson
Eric Pierson. Sunshine Police

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According to an arrest report, police had interacted with Pierson and Verdecia during a routine traffic stop on Sept. 25, the Associated Press reports. However, Verdecia did not seem to be in distress.

When police contacted Pierson during the investigation, he claimed after the traffic stop he and Verdecia stopped at a gas station, where she just walked away. However, CCTV footage showed the trip to the gas station actually preceded the traffic stop, when they were seen together.

On Friday, police re-interviewed Pierson and searched his vehicle, which had blood inside of it. Later that same day, Pierson's girlfriend called authorities to report that he kept staring at the canal behind her home, alleging he said, "Damn that b---- stinks."

He also allegedly said, "If they don't find a body, they don't have a case." Hours later, a dive team searched the canal and found Verdecia's body.

Pierson eventually confessed to stabbing Verdecia four times with a screwdriver on Sept. 25, police allege.

It is unclear whether Pierson has entered a plea or retained an attorney to comment on his behalf.

A GoFundMe page has been started by Verdecia's family to help support her daughter.

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