WASHINGTON (AP) — A relative of the North Carolina man suspected of killing his parents and taking his missing 11-year-old niece to Washington, D.C., says Curtis Atkinson Jr. loved his parents and she doesn’t know “what went wrong.”
First cousin Nina Chandler told The Associated Press that family members also don’t know why Atkinson was found with his late brother’s missing 11-year-old 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.”
A 911 call on Sunday led police officers in Washington to the 11-year-old girl, identified as Arieyana Forney, who authorities said was believed kidnapped from the home of her grandparents in Charlotte.
Atkinson was arrested after a chase and crash near Washington’s downtown monuments, said Metropolitan Police Department Capt. David Sledge. He said Forney appeared unhurt and that a 25-year-old woman in the car also was arrested.
Authorities said Curtis Atkinson Jr., the girl’s uncle, is suspected of killing his parents at their Charlotte home and is being held in Washington, where he faced a schedule court appearance Monday afternoon.
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. They were Forney’s grandparents.
Nikkia Cooper, 25, the third person in the car stopped Sunday, was being held in Washington on drug charges, police said initially. Court records released Monday in Washington identified her as Nakkia Cooper and said she was wanted in North Carolina for kidnapping.
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.
Chandler said Curtis Jr. had never been to the Maryland home she shares with her husband east of Washington, so she didn’t think he was headed there.
She also said she and Curtis Atkinson Sr. grew up together in North Carolina.
“Maybe he was a troubled son,” Chandler said. “They raised their boys as Christians. But you know as people get older, they choose their way” apart from their parents.
Curtis Atkinson Jr. has a criminal record including convictions for drug dealing and possessing stolen goods dating back to 1999, according to state prison records. He served 11 months in prison before being released in 2011, those records show.
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