A parent's worst nightmare came true in Lenoir County Monday night, but, thankfully, this kidnapping story ends with the missing children back with their parents.
The Lenoir County Sheriff's Office says they were called to Turnage Dr. outside of Kinston about two children being kidnapped just after 7 p.m. Monday. The grandmother to two-year-old twins, Louanne Neeley, was watching the children while the parents were away. Authorities say Amy Houston was in class at Lenoir Community College, while Adam Houston was at work.
Deputies say 24-year-old Phillip Johnson of Greene County was in the Houston's garage while the parents were away, after driving Amy to LCC in her car. Johnson told the grandmother he was waiting for Adam to get home to help move a piece of furniture, according to deputies. However, Neeley says Johnson then hit her with a lamp and punched her in the face while she was on the floor, trying to defend herself. Neeley told authorities that Johnson then grabbed the twins and fled in the Houston's silver Dodge Neon.
Amy Houston says Johnson is the boyfriend of one of her friends. "My life started over again because if they wouldn't have been returned safely I don't know if my life would have went on...I don't know how I would have done it or gotten through," says the mother. "I don't wish that feeling on anyone. Just always make sure you know everybody inside and out before you allow them into your life"
Deputies were called to the Houston's to investigate the kidnapping at 7:06 p.m.
Two hours later, deputies found Johnson walking near Mallards Food Shop on Highway 11. He was arrested, but he was not with the car or the missing children. Deputies say Johnson denied any knowledge of the children and said he did not know how he got to where he was.
One hour later, at 10:15 p.m., authorities found the missing children in an alley near 419 N. Herritage St. in Kinston. They were huddled together in the Dodge Neon. Deputies say the children appeared to be unharmed. They were examined by medical personnel and then returned to their parents.
Johnson is charged with two counts of first degree kidnapping and jailed under a $200,000 bond.