Freed murderer charged in Florida with slaying of single mom

SUNRISE (Fla.) Police have arrested a convicted killer who was released last year from prison for the murder of a South Florida woman whose body had been missing for three weeks. Her body was discovered in a canal.
Eric Pierson (54), was arrested Saturday for first-degree murder in the killing of Erika Verdecia (33) hours after her body was discovered Saturday near Fort Lauderdale. Sunrise police claim that Pierson admitted to stabbing Erika Verdecia, a single mother, four times with a screwdriver in her home on Sept. 25, 2010.

Pierson was released in September 2020 from prison after serving 27 years of a sentence of 40 years for the 1993 beating and strangulation death of Kristina Whitaker (17). Her death prompted a push to increase prison sentences. He had pleaded guilty for second-degree murder.

After the murder, Florida abolished parole and required that convicts serve at least 85 percent of their sentences. Pierson was still eligible for parole, so the change couldn't be retroactively applied. Pierson was released last year.

Pierson broke into a house and cut the throat of a woman in 1985. Pierson was sentenced to four years for attempted first-degree murder and then released after being released on parole.

Verdecia's mother explained to the South Florida SunSentinel that Pierson had no right to attack her daughter. Erika Verdecia has a 6-year old daughter.

Is this the reason this man is on the streets? Carmen Verdecia explained to the newspaper. This time he'll pay. We won't stop until he sits in an electric chair.

Verdecia was reported missing by her family Sept. 27, three days before she left home. Her mother reached out through social media to her friends and one of them said that Verdecia had been with a man in a dirty sandwich shop, who claimed to have seen her with Eric Pierson.

Carmen Verdecia looked up his name online and was shocked to find newspaper articles about his murder and attack.

She said that I had flipped out. I informed (police) that my daughter had been seen with a murderer. They began to search for her. It was too late.

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According to court records, Sunrise police claimed that they had a brief conversation with Pierson and Verdecia in a Sept. 25 traffic stop. This was the day Pierson said he wanted to kill her. According to police, she was a passenger in Pierson’s truck and didn’t appear to be in distress.

Pierson told police that Verdecia had left after he stopped for gas just after the traffic stop on Oct. 4. He claimed he had never seen her again. Police said that surveillance video showed the couple had been at the station prior to the traffic stop.

Police claim that Pierson, who is 6 feet 8 inches (2 meters) tall, was again questioned by police on Friday. Police say that he allowed them to search his truck, and they found blood inside. Later, his girlfriend called police to report that he was staring at the canal behind their home and saying, "Damn that bitch stinks!"

Hours later, the body was discovered.

A Sunday email to the Broward County Public Defender's Office seeking comment was not returned on Sunday.