Bookstore owner kidnapped and killed by employee, cops say

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Erica Atkins, 40, was the owner of Birdsong Books in Locust Grove, Georgia, when police say she was abducted and killed.

Henry County Congressional Bureau via Facebook

A man is in custody after he was accused of kidnapping his boss, killing her and throwing her in a Georgia river, news outlets report.

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Erica Atkins, 40, was first reported missing early in the morning March 5, The Eatonton Messenger reported. Ten hours later, a fisherman called the Jones County Sheriff’s Office to report that he had seen a body while fishing on Cedar Creek.

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As deputies responded to the body in the creek, a report went out about a possible kidnapping in Locust Grove, about 40 miles southwest, The Eatonton Messenger reported.

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Officials determined the body in the river and the missing person were both Atkins, Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills told the Union Recorder.

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Locust Grove Police Chief Derrick Austin told The Eatonton Messenger one of Atkins’ employees, 38-year-old Romero Johnson of Norman, Oklahoma, had been taken into custody. Austin told the news outlet Johnson and Atkins were “friends and coworkers.”

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Locust Grove police told the Union Recorder they believe Johnson kidnapped and killed Atkins at her home before driving her body through multiple counties headed east. They accused Johnson of then dumping her body in Cedar Creek along the highway.

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Johnson was arrested and charged with kidnapping and murder, and was booked in Henry County Jail, according to WSB-TV.

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Police did not share a motive for the killing. McClatchy News reached out to police for comment, but did not receive a response.

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Atkins was a mother and the owner of Birdsong Books, a bookstore in Locust Grove that specializes in “new [and] used books ranging from fiction and non-fiction, children’s books, African-American and Christian life books,” Henry County reports. Convention and Visitors Bureau.

There has been an outpouring of messages on social media for Atkins and her family, and she was a beloved member of her community.

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“We will never forget your luminous light. You shined so very much!” fellow business owner Shanna Amoah posted on her Facebook page. “May your legacy of service and community, continue on.”

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“She was an awesome woman to work with and loved what she did with Birdsong Books,” the McDonough Mistletoe Market, where Atkins was a vendor, shared on its Facebook page.

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Atkins leaves behind multiple children, the youngest of whom is 10 years old, according to The Eatonton Messenger.

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Locust Grove is 36 miles southeast of Atlanta.

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