‘Help me,’ Charlotte girl cries to police after chase, crash and suspected kidnapping

Curtis Atkinson Jr.
Curtis Atkinson Jr.

A Charlotte girl who police believe was kidnapped after her grandparents were murdered cried out “Help me” after the crash in Washington, D.C., of a car in which she was a passenger.

The Associated Press quoted court documents that were released late Monday as saying officers found Arieyana Simone Forney, 11, wedged between the driver’s and front passenger’s seats in the wrecked car.

The documents say Curtis Atkinson Jr., 36, of Charlotte led police on a chase that ended when his car rear-ended another vehicle in Washington. Atkinson is Arieyana’s uncle and the son of Curtis and Ruby Atkinson, who were found dead in a burning Charlotte home Sunday morning.

WSOC quoted police sources as saying Arieyana might have witnessed her grandparents’ deaths.

Charlotte officials have said the chase in Washington happened after a female inside the car called police at about 8 p.m., saying she had been kidnapped.

She was able to provide her approximate location to the dispatcher, and police quickly began searching for the 2005 white Chevrolet Impala. Washington police on Tuesday confirmed only that an individual inside the car called police, but would not identify the caller.

Friends of her slain grandparents say the couple took in the girl after her father, Micah Atkinson, was murdered in 2013 in Charlotte.

An officer who chased the vehicle in Washington was told that the occupants of the vehicle “had a handgun and they were not scared to hurt the kidnapped child in the vehicle,” the court documents said, according to AP.

The girl was taken to a hospital for evaluation.

Arieyana is a sixth-grader at Charlotte’s 760-student Hickory Grove Christian School, where ministers were in sixth-grade classrooms all day Monday, after news of her apparent abduction.

“Grief for students manifests itself in a lot of different ways,” said Head of School Jimmie Quesinberry. “We contacted parents and asked them to watch their children and let us know who we need to reach out to.”

Arieyana plays middle-school volleyball and basketball, he said, and this year won the Christian leadership award on her basketball team. She’s “very vivacious, great smile, great grades,” Quesinberry said of the girl.

While it’s unclear where Arieyana will live, the school is collecting gift cards for her immediate needs and created a trust fund to accept public donations for her long-term care. Quesinberry said support from the Hickory Grove family has been “incredible.”

A third person in the crashed car, Nikkia Cooper, 25, also faces charges. The court records released Monday said she was wanted in North Carolina for kidnapping and in Washington on drug charges. The documents said authorities intend to extradite Curtis Atkinson Jr. and Cooper to North Carolina.

Court records indicate that Curtis Atkinson Jr. and Cooper had been sharing a home in the past year and were evicted the first week of March. The records show that Curtis Atkinson Jr. had claimed his parents’ home as his address as far back as 2007.

Atkinson Jr. has a lengthy arrest record, including charges for drug dealing, assault, and possession of a firearm by a felon. Records show he was found guilty of possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, assault and battery, possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of stolen goods, possession of controlled substances with intent to distribute and second-degree trespassing.

He served 11 months in prison and got out in 2011, records show.

Nina Atkinson Chandler, the sister of Curtis Atkinson Sr., said Monday that the senior Atkinson and his wife took in Arieyana after their son’s death. She does not believe Atkinson Jr. had moved back in with his parents in recent weeks. However, she says it was common knowledge in the family that he was facing an eviction.

“I was told that he (Curtis Jr.) was afraid of being homeless and they (Curtis Sr. and Ruby) had been talking to him about saving up some money to get a place,” Chandler said.

Bruce Henderson: 704-358-5051, @bhender