Family of beloved Henry Co. bookstore owner says suspect worked with her hours before her death

LOCUST GROVE, Ga. — People are paying their respects to a beloved Henry County bookstore owner whose body was found in a Georgia creek.

The Putnam County Sheriff’s Office said deputies recovered 42-year-old Erica Atkins’ body on Sunday afternoon after receiving calls from the Jones County Sheriff’s Office about a woman’s body that was found in Cedar Creek.

Locust Grove police confirmed to Channel 2′s Veronica Griffin that they arrested and charged Romero Johnson, an employee of the bookstore, in Atkins’ death.

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Griffin spoke to the Atkins family on WSB Tonight at 11 p.m. Her family said the suspect in her death, Johnson, worked with her over the weekend at a pop-up bookshop, just hours before she was killed.

Atkins leaves behind her 21-year-old daughter and 10-year-old son.

Atkins’ daughter has been thinking of her mother.

“I’m really going to miss her,” said Jasmine Atkins, her daughter. “Your mother is the first person you look at when you come into this world. The person that’s holding you. That first heartbeat you feel other than your own. My mother was everything to me.”

Atkins’ brother, Phillip Robinson spoke with anguish when discussing the death of his sister.

“It was shocking and extremely, extremely painful,” said Robinson.

Atkin’s opened the bookstore a little over a year ago. Outside of the bookstore, people dropped off flowers in her remembrance.

Robinson is still reeling over the death of his sister, and he talked about her love for reading.

“She grew up loving to read, an avid reader. She would spend hours when we were kids reading aloud,” said Robinson.


Atkins’ brother told Channel 2 Action News that Johnson was an ex-boyfriend of his sister and that he still worked with her when needed, including this past weekend before she disappeared.

A friend called the police after noticing the front door to her home was wide open.

Austin said they had a vehicle description and neighborhood cameras revealed that Johnson had been to Atkins’ home. After that, Austin said they were able to track the tag number to several counties east of Henry County and into Putnam County.

“It’s just a sad situation she would trust someone in her home that would do something like this to her,” said Austin.

Atkins also worked with the Henry County Chamber of Commerce. They wrote in a Facebook post-Monday evening that her passing was a tremendous loss to the HCCC family. HCCC said Birdsong Books, owned by Atkins, was named 2022 Microbusiness of the Year by the Chamber in February.

Officials are still working to determine the exact cause of Atkins’ death.

Chief Austin said Johnson is sitting inside the Henry County Jail. Johnson faces murder and kidnapping charges.

“To dispose of a body like that is just heartbreaking, senseless,” said Austin.

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