Convicted murderer released from prison in 2020 charged with missing woman’s death

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SUNRISE, FL – A 54-year-old convicted murderer who was released from prison in 2020 reportedly confessed to murdering a 33-year-old woman who’d been missing since late September. Authorities say that the suspect admitted to stabbing the victim four times with a screwdriver.

On October 16th, police charged 54-year-old Eric Pierson with first-degree murder in the killing of 33-year-old Erika Verdecia, whose body was discovered the same day near Fort Lauderdale after having been reported missing for several weeks.

Authorities say that Pierson admitted to murdering Verdecia on September 25th. A statement from the Sunrise Police Department noted that while there is nothing that can be done to bring the victim back, they’re hopeful that Pierson’s reported confession brings closure:

“We now have in custody, Eric Pierson, who has confessed to the murder of Erika Verdecia.  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.”

“The Sunrise Police Department thanks the public for their assistance with this case.  We will continue to keep her family and friends in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”

The suspect in the case has been sent to prison twice before, gaining parole for two extremely heinous crimes committed in the 80s and early 90s that was possible due to what some would refer to as the “old code” for parole – an antiquated system where offenders would serve a fraction of their sentences that has since been abandoned and replaced by truth-in-sentencing in Florida.

In 1985, Pierson had broken into a home and slit a woman’s throat. In that case, Pierson was sentenced to 18 years in prison for attempted murder – but was paroled after only serving four years.

Then in 1993, Pierson beat and strangled 17-year-old Kristina Whitaker, where he was convicted of second-degree murder. In that case he was sentenced to 40 years in prison, which he was paroled after serving 27 years and was released in September of 2020.

Even though by the time Pierson was released for the 1993 murder, the “old code” for parole was long since abandoned, the application of truth-in-sentencing could not be legally applied retroactively for cases already adjudicated.

Verdecia’s mother spoke to the South Florida SunSentinel about the case, expressing frustration over the fact that Pierson was free from prison despite his criminal record:

“Why is this guy in the streets? Why?… He’s going to pay this time. We’re not going to stop until we see him in the electric chair.”

Sunrise Police confirmed that they’d had a brief interaction with both Pierson and Verdecia on the day that she was killed during a traffic stop, with police saying that she was a passenger in Pierson’s truck and didn’t seem to be in distress.

While the case was still being treated like a missing person, police had interviewed Pierson to inquire about Verdecia’s whereabouts, where he claimed that he hadn’t seen her since September 25th after Verdecia invited him to a local Wendy’s restaurant, but she never showed up.

Police later received information from Pierson’s girlfriend that led to them discovering the victim’s body in a canal not far from his home.

The suspect’s girlfriend called police on October 15th saying that Pierson would eerily glare at the canal behind their home and say, “damn that bitch stinks” adding that he’d also stated, “if they don’t find a body, they don’t have a case.”

Verdecia’s body was discovered hours later by police in the aforementioned canal after receiving the tip from the suspect’s girlfriend.

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Huh? Retired police officer, 70, arrested after refusing to leave her daughter’s side at Florida hospital

(Originally published October 14th, 2021)

JACKSONVILLE, FL – A 70-year-old retired Ohio deputy spent the night in jail after she refused to leave her daughter’s bedside at a Florida hospital.

Lynn Savage’s daughter, Amber, underwent brain surgery at UF Health North in Jacksonville, Florida and because her daughter is non-verbal and partially paralyzed after suffering a stroke, she did not want to leave her side.

The retired Stark County deputy sheriff said that doctors asked her to come into her daughter’s room to help keep her calm:

“As soon as I approached the bedside, she was fine. With all these people talking and all these things going on and she doesn’t understand it and not being able to talk, she was just frantic.”

Savage remained at her daughter’s bedside from 6:30 am on October 4 until a nurse came to tell her visiting hours were ending:

“The nurse said that the visiting hours were over at 7 p.m. and I had to leave. And I said, “I’m not going to leave. I want to stay here with my daughter. Can you call the doctor because the doctor is the one that wanted me here with her?’

“And she said no that they couldn’t do that. The COVID rules said that visiting hours were over at seven and I had to leave.”

The retired deputy dedicated her life to helping others, and now decided it was time for her to help her own:

“I could not in good conscience and good heart leave her bedside, not knowing how she was going to make it through the night voluntarily.”

When Savage refused to leave at 7 p.m., security tried to convince her to leave. When she refused, police were called, and Jacksonville Police Officer B.S. Crocker responded.

In his report, Officer Crocker wrote:

Upon arrival, I met UF Health Security Supervisor Marcus Hardaway. He and other security officers spent a couple of hours pleading for the suspect, Ms. Lynn Savage, to leave because visitation was over at 1900 hours. I then approached Ms. Savage in room #3104, where her daughter was recovering from surgery.

“I explained the reason security called the police for the trespass warning. She understood completely why the police were called. Ms. Savage is a twenty-year retired deputy with the Stark County, Ohio Sheriff’s Office. She stated she understood but would have to be removed by force.”

Savage did not hold the arresting officer responsible for her arrest. She said he was polite and tried to get her to leave voluntarily:

“The sheriff’s office came up. They were also very polite. They kept trying to get me to leave and I said I’m not leaving; I’m not going to leave my daughter’s side.”

Officer Crocker said he placed the retired deputy into custody and escorted her outside. Once outside the hospital, he said he pleaded with the concerned mother to leave and come back in the morning. He wrote:

“Once escorted outside the hospital, I pleaded for Ms. Savage to come to reason, leave and return in the morning when visitation opened at 0900 hours. She refused for the principle that if something happens to her daughter Amber, she was forced to leave her side. Ms. Savage understands (that) trespass is good for one year.”

The elderly mother and retired deputy spend about 24-hours in jail after being booked on trespassing charges. She called the experience “horrible”:

“Not an experience that I would ever want to do again for the rest of my life not ever. It was horrible. It was filthy, it was more like an insane asylum with the women screaming and hollering and banging on bars and banging on walls.

“It was just terrifying, but I would rather be there than know that I had walked away from my daughter.”

UF Health Jacksonville issued a statement trying to justify their actions:

“Due to federal HIPAA privacy laws, we cannot comment on inquiries about specific patients. However, UF Health Jacksonville is dedicated to the well-being and safety of everyone who visits our facilities, especially patients and their families.

“Like health care organizations throughout the country, we have put policies in place to protect everyone from the COVID-19 virus, including patients, visitors and staff. Information about visitation limitations are placed in areas visible to those entering our facilities.”

According to court records, Savage has been charged with misdemeanor trespassing and has pleaded not guilty. Her next court hearing is scheduled for Oct. 20.

Although Amber made it through the night and is recovering, Savage said she did not regret her decision:

“I stand by my actions 100 percent. I am not sorry that I made them take me out of there in handcuffs.”

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