Convicted murderer charged after body of missing South Florida woman recovered from canal

SUNRISE, Fla. — A convicted murderer released 25 years into a 40-year sentence has been arrested by South Florida authorities after confessing to killing a 33-year-old single mother reported missing by her family more than three weeks ago.

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The body of Erika Verdecia was found in a Davie canal Saturday morning, investigators with the Sunrise Police Department confirmed to the Sun-Sentinel.

According to police, Eric Pierson, 54, confessed in great detail to the slaying and is facing a first-degree murder charge, WPLG reported.

During their investigation, detectives learned that Pierson was convicted of second-degree murder in 1995, and released last year after serving 25 years of a 40-year sentence. He was also convicted in 1985 of attempted first-degree murder and served four years of an 18-year sentence, the TV station reported.

When officers searched Pierson’s vehicle, they found blood in the back seat, and that same day Pierson’s girlfriend told detectives by phone that he had made troubling statements about rocks and debris clogging a canal behind her home, according to an arrest affidavit obtained by WPLG.

A dive team pulled a body later identified as Verdecia’s from the canal, and Pierson confessed to the killing when questioned, stating that he stabbed her twice in the neck and once in each eye with a screwdriver. He also admitted to dumping Verdecia’s body in the canal and attempting to weigh it down with rocks but claimed that he killed the woman in self-defense, the affidavit stated.

According to the Sun-Sentinel, Pierson pleaded guilty in 1995 to second-degree murder in the death of 17-year-old Kristina Whitaker, whose “battered body was found buried under debris at a construction site in Davie.”

Ten years earlier, Pierson pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder after breaking into a Davie woman’s home and cutting her throat and hands with a kitchen knife, the newspaper reported.

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