3-6 kidnapping murder.tiff

Authorities from Putnam and Jones counties walk away from scene of where a woman’s body was discovered floating in Cedar Creek near the Putnam-Jones county line. The woman is believed to have been kidnapped and murdered in Locust Grove sometime late Saturday or early Sunday. Her body was later placed in the creek in Putnam County.

EATONTON, Ga. — A woman whose body was found floating in a creek near the Putnam-Jones county line Sunday afternoon was a kidnapped homicide victim who lived in the Henry County city of Locust Grove, authorities say.

A man has been charged in the woman’s death.

Although the victim’s body was found in Putnam County, Locust Grove police believe she was abducted and killed at her residence in Locust Grove. They believe the woman’s killer drove her body from Locust Grove through several other counties before he dumped it in Cedar Creek along the Gray-Macon Highway.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard R. Sills said a fisherman reported finding a body floating face down in the creek about 1:30 p.m. The fisherman called the Jones County Sheriff’s Office, but it was later learned that the body was on the Putnam County side of the creek.

Putnam County Sheriff Howard Sills said deputies from his department determined the body was a female victim who been reported missing sometime after midnight Saturday.

Sills identified the victim as 40-year-old Erica M. Atkins of Locust Grove.

Atkins, who owned and operated a bookstore called Birdsong Books in Locust Grove, leaves behind a 10-year-old son and older children, according to Locust Grove Police Chief Derrick B. Austin.

Putnam County Coroner Hollis Harrison said the victim’s body will be turned over to the Henry County Coroner’s Office.

Austin said the body will be taken by the coroner’s office to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Crime Laboratory in Decatur where an autopsy will be performed. A medical examiner will determine the cause and manner of Atkins’ death.

A man described as an associate of Atkins has been arrested and charged with her death.

Austin identified the suspect as Romero Johnson, 38, of Norman, Okla.

Lt. Brandon Morris, an investigator with the Locust Grove Police Department, said Johnson has been charged with one count of kidnapping and one count of murder. Johnson was being held Sunday night in the Henry County Jail in McDonough.

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