Arieyana Forney, the 11-year-old girl who was kidnapped in early April after her grandparents were killed in their home, has returned to Charlotte and is back in school, according to a school official.
Police charged Arieyana’s uncle, Curtis Atkinson Jr., in her kidnapping and in the killing of her grandparents, Curtis Atkinson Sr. and Ruby Atkinson. Atkinson Jr.’s girlfriend, Nikkia Cooper, was also charged last week for her role in the double homicide and kidnapping.
Arieyana had been living with her grandparents after her father was murdered in 2013.
Law enforcement officials said Atkinson Jr. and Cooper took Arieyana to Washington, D.C., after the homicides, and they were found by D.C. police after Cooper made a call to police from the car.
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Dr. Jimmie Quesinberry, head of Hickory Grove Christian School, where Arieyana is a student, said Wednesday that she was returned to Charlotte last week and is attending school again.
“I’m happy to report that Arieyana is safely back in class, and is surrounded by a loving community,” he said in a press conference Wednesday at CMPD headquarters. “The staff and students welcomed her back with great joy in her return.”
Arieyana is staying with a foster family from church, Quesinberry said, though it is up to Mecklenburg Child Protective Services to decide her permanent living arrangements. He said the goal of the school and the church is to continue to support Arieyana with her basic needs.
“She is starting from scratch with many needs, both immediate and long term,” he said.
A YouCaring fund has been established by Arieyana’s school and church. Police spokesman Rob Tufano encouraged the public to donate.
“Is money going to make everything better? Absolutely not,” Tufano said. “But I think we all can agree that this girl has got some considerable challenges that she’s going to have to face over the next couple of years.”
LaVendrick Smith; 704-358-5101; @LaVendrickS