By Karli Barnett

FORT LAUDERDALE (CBSMiami) – A family is grieving after their worst fear was confirmed.

The body of Erika Verdecia, who had been missing for weeks, was found in a canal Sunday.

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Sunrise Police said the man who confessed to her murder, Eric Pierson, 54, had killed before.

“I just want justice for my sister. My sister didn’t deserve this,” says Lynette Agosto, tearfully. “My sister fought to the end. I know she did.”

Erika’s mother, Carmen Verdecia, said she wished the police would have gotten the word out sooner.

“The police would tell me ‘She’s 33. She could be anywhere. She could be with her boyfriend’,” she said. “No. This is not what my daughter would do.”

Verdecia said Erika went missing back on September 24th. She knew something was wrong because she said Erika would never leave her young daughter.

Detectives found through phone records Erika called and texted Pierson.

Eric Pierson (Source: Broward Sheriff’s Office)

According to the arrest affidavit, Pierson was convicted of second-degree murder in 1995 and released in 2020. He was also convicted of attempted first-degree murder 10 years prior in 1985 and was released just four years later in 1989.

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“My best friend died at the hands of a serial killer,” said Amy Ortiz.

She said they had been pushing for answers the last three weeks.

The arrest form said Pierson’s girlfriend contacted police, saying he told her, “If they don’t have a body, they don’t have a case.” His girlfriend also said he was acting strange, spending long periods of time staring at the canal behind her home.

In questioning, Pierson at first denied hurting Erika. However, he later said the two were having sex and said Erika became enraged, according to the arrest report. He reportedly said she attempted to stab him with a screwdriver. Then he claims he grabbed her hand, turning the screwdriver back on her, and stabbed her, according to police.

“The pain and what I am feeling here, you can’t just can’t explain what I feel,” says Verdecia. “She didn’t die in an accident. She died at the hands of a killer. And do you know what he did? He stabbed her in the neck and the eyes. Come on. How am I supposed to feel?”

Erika’s body was recovered wrapped in a tarp with rocks weighing it down.

When asked what they will miss most about Erika, her family and friends said it was the joy she had being a mother.

“The way she treated her daughter, how she played with her daughter,” Verdecia says.

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Pierson is scheduled to be in bond court Monday morning.

Karli Barnett