HENRY COUNTY, Ga. – A beloved bookstore owner who was described as a “pillar” of the community was found dead in a creek on Monday about an hour away from her business. One of her employees who reportedly dated the woman has been arrested and charged with kidnapping and murder, according to reports.
Erica Atkins, 42, was the owner of Birdsong Books in Henry County. She was discovered by a fisherman in Cedar Creek in Putnam County around 1:15 p.m. on Monday, according to the Henry County Sheriff’s Office, 11Alive reported.
Atkins, a mother of two, had been reported missing on Sunday. Her body was found about an hour’s drive from the bookstore. Law enforcement authorities believe she was murdered in Henry County and that her body was subsequently dumped in the creek in Putnam County.
Atkins was found dead in a creek about an hour away from her bookstore in Locust Grove. (Erica Atkins/Facebook)
Romero Johnson, 38, worked for Atkins at the bookstore and had previously dated her before she broke it off, FOX 5 Atlanta reported, citing the father of Atkiins’ youngest child, William Crusoe.
On Tuesday, Crusoe stopped by the bookstore to pay his respects. He gave insight on how Johnson and Atkinson knew each other.
“I met him. They dated. She broke it off. Maybe that played a role,” he said.
Atkins was reportedly kidnapped and killed by Johnson, who worked at her bookstore in the Atlanta suburbs. (Erica Atkins/Facebook)
Johnson was taken into custody and now faces charges of kidnapping and murder, according to authorities.
Romero Johnson (Henry County Sheriff’s Office)
Atkins’ death has stunned the local community. A makeshift memorial of flowers was erected in front of the Locust Grove bookstore, the New York Post reported.
“I still have a sick feeling in my stomach, in my head. I just keep thinking about her,” Atkins’ friend Shanna Amoah told 11Alive.
“It just floored me. Basically, it floored me beyond measure. I was just completely devastated,” Amoah said.
Continuing, Amoah noted that Atkins was a beloved “pillar” of the community, recently being honored with the Small Business of the Year award by the local chamber of commerce.
“Erica was a busy woman. She was committed to helping her community. She donated books – donated her time. In fact, she came last year to my summer camp and read to my kids – donated her time there,” Amoah said as she shared her despair.