WASHINGTON >> An 11-year-old girl who was allegedly kidnapped from North Carolina cried out “Help me” when police officers in the U.S. capital found her wedged between the driver’s and front passenger’s seat after the car she was in crashed, court documents showed.
The documents were released late Monday. They describe the police pursuit Sunday of the car allegedly driven by 36-year-old Curtis Atkinson Jr. of Charlotte, North Carolina. Atkinson is the uncle of 11-year-old girl Arieyana Forney. He is charged with killing his parents, who were Arieyana’s grandparents and guardians, in North Carolina.
Police describe Atkinson leading them on a chase, which ended when the car rear-ended another vehicle in Washington.
Officers say the force of the collision was so great that the child, two adults and a dog were all thrown to the front seat.
Court documents made available Monday said that 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.”
Arieyana was taken to a hospital for evaluation.
Atkinson’s first cousin Nina Chandler told The Associated Press that family members also don’t know why Atkinson was found with his Arieyana, his late brother’s daughter, after fleeing the North Carolina home where Atkinson’s parents were found dead Sunday.
In a telephone interview, Chandler said that Atkinson and his parents shared an enthusiasm for football and basketball, attending NFL games of the Carolina Panthers and Charlotte’s former NBA team, the Hornets.
“They loved their boys. And Curtis Jr. loved his dad,” said Chandler, of Upper Marlboro, Maryland. “We can’t get our hands on it. We don’t know what went wrong.”
In court documents filed Monday ahead of the planned court appearance, authorities said Atkinson Jr. was charged in North Carolina with homicide.
Police in North Carolina had said earlier that they planned to seek charges against Atkinson in the deaths of his parents, Ruby Atkinson, 62, and Curtis Atkinson Sr., 63.
Nikkia Cooper, 25, the third person in the car stopped Sunday, is also facing charges. Court records released Monday in Washington identified her as Nakkia Cooper and said she was wanted in North Carolina for kidnapping. She also faces a drug charge in Washington.
Both Atkinson Jr. and Cooper appeared in court Monday and are being held in jail.
The court documents said authorities intend to extradite Atkinson Jr. and Cooper to North Carolina.
Arieyana’s grandparents became her guardians after her father, 29-year-old Micah Atkinson, was killed in a still-unsolved slaying in 2013, Chandler said.
Curtis Atkinson Jr. has a criminal record including convictions for drug dealing and possessing stolen goods dating to 1999, according to state prison records. He served 11 months in prison before being released in 2011, those records show.