FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — A convicted killer released from prison last year has killed again, police say.
The body of Erika Verdecia, a 33-year-old single mom missing since Sept. 24, was found in a Davie, Florida, canal Saturday morning, Oct. 16, detectives said.
Eric Pierson, 54, confessed Saturday to killing Verdecia on Sept. 25, according to an arrest affidavit. Pierson told police he stabbed Verdecia with a screwdriver four times — twice in the neck and once in each eye.
Pierson is now in jail facing charges of first-degree murder.
It’s not the first time.
In 1995, Pierson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Kristina Whitaker. Her battered body was found buried under debris at a construction site in Davie.
He was sentenced to 40 years in prison but served 25. He was released on Sept. 3, 2020.
In 1985, he pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder after breaking into a Davie woman’s house and cutting her throat and hands with a kitchen knife. Miraculously, the woman survived. Pierson was sentenced to 18 years but served four.
The family of Erika Verdecia has vowed to see justice served.
“Why is this guy in the streets? Why?,” said her mother, Carmen Verdecia. “He’s going to pay this time. We’re not going to stop until we see him in the electric chair.”
Erika Verdecia was reported missing by her family three days after she walked out the door on Sept. 24, Carmen Verdecia said.
Verdecia’s mom used social media sites to reach out to her daughter’s friends. One told her he’d seen Erika with a “grimy” man at a sandwich shop and asked the man for his name. The man told him Eric Pierson.
Carmen Verdecia said she Googled the name and was horrified to see a man by that name had been convicted of murder in 1995.
“I flipped out,” she said. “I told [police] my daughter was seen with a killer. And then they started looking for her. But it was too late.”
Sunrise police had a brief interaction with Pierson after 2 a.m. on Sept. 25 during a traffic stop. Verdecia was a passenger in the truck but showed no signs of distress, the arrest affidavit said.
Based on his confession, Pierson killed her soon after.
On Oct. 4, Sunrise detectives questioned Pierson at his Davie apartment. He claimed Erika Verdecia walked to a nearby fast-food restaurant while he was getting gas after the traffic stop. He also claimed he never saw her again.
But surveillance video showed they went to the gas station before the traffic stop.
Detectives questioned Pierson again on Friday. After he gave them permission to search his truck, they found blood in the rear passenger compartment.
Later that night, Pierson’s girlfriend called police to report he’d been acting strangely over the past few weeks. He’d stare at the canal behind her mobile home and comment, “Damn that bitch stinks.” She says he also told her, “If they don’t find a body, they don’t have a case.”
Sunrise detectives, with the help of the Davie Police Department’s dive team, found a body in the canal on Saturday at 1:47 a.m.
Within the hour, detectives were at the Verdecia home to let Erika’s mother know they’d found a body. Later that day, detectives confirmed it was Erika.
That evening, Sunrise police paid the family another visit to let them know they’d made an arrest in the case.
“I lost it,” said the victim’s mom. “[Pierson] told the cops they had a fight. He stabbed her and threw her in the canal. I don’t know how many times [he stabbed her] because I don’t want to know. In the end, we were right all along.”
Erika Verdecia leaves behind a 6-year-old daughter who still doesn’t know why her mom has not come home.
“She still thinks her mom’s coming back,” Carmen Verdecia said Sunday, holding back tears. “This is not going to stop here. The man left my granddaughter without a mother. I don’t know why they are letting these criminals out. They are letting killers out. These people should not be let out.”
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