DAVIE, Fla. – Erika Verdecia walked out of her Broward County home on Sept. 24 to buy cigarettes and never came back. Her parents Erico and Carmen Verdecia grew concerned when they realized her phone was off, she wasn’t sharing anything on social media and her friends didn’t know where she was.
Video shows the 33-year-old mother from Sunrise was with Eric Pierson in his pickup truck on Sept. 25. The 54-year-old convicted felon — who is 6 feet, 8 inches tall, and weighs about 250 pounds — told detectives he used a screwdriver to stab her in each eye and twice in the neck.
“It escalated, turned into something it shouldn’t have. You know, my anger got the best of me and I went a little overboard,” Pierson said during an interview from the Broward County’s main jail.
After a tip from Pierson’s girlfriend, divers found Verdecia’s body in a canal in Davie about three weeks after her disappearance. He had tied rocks to her body and dumped her in the canal. The Verdecia family’s anguish quickly turned into grief and anger. Unanswered questions haunt her mother.
“Why was this killer on the street? Why did the justice system fail us?”
It wasn’t Pierson’s first murder or the first time he attacked a woman in the neck. In 1985, he broke into another woman’s home and stabbed her in the neck. She survived. In 1993, he strangled 17-year-old Kristina Whitaker and left her body in a construction site
“After I killed her, about 12-13 hours later, I thought about what I did,” Pierson said.
Whitaker’s mother, Roxanne Grimstead, was outraged when she learned Pierson had only served four years in prison out of his 18-year sentence for attacking the woman at her home.
“You can sit and look at the papers and look at his background and let him out. This is incredible,” Grimstead said during an interview in 1993.
There was a plea deal, Pierson pleaded guilty to second-degree murder, and he received a 40-year sentence. Pierson served less than 30 years and officers let him out of prison on supervised release last year. It took months, for him to kill again.
“He knew exactly what he was doing and there is no reason in the world that he should have killed my daughter. She didn’t deserve that,” Carmine Verdecia said.
Pierson faces life in prison or the death penalty upon conviction.
“I have got to live with it every day. I have got to wake up and deal with this — not just one but two,” Pierson said about the murders.
From jail, as he awaits his fate, he said South Florida residents are safer with him behind bars.
“Am I fit for society, right now? Probably not at this point.”
Carmine Verdecia said she misses her daughter and Pierson’s words are meaningless.
“There’s nothing he can tell me or my family that is going to replace the hurt we have and what he did to my granddaughter, leave her without a mother.”