Ten-year-old King doesn’t remember his mother, Athena Curry, who disappeared Memorial Day weekend in 2011 when he was only 16 months old. But his family says if you want a glimpse of her, then just spend time with King.
“He has her personality… oh, and it’s a strong one,” Athena’s sister, Aisha Magee, told Dateline. “I get little glimpses of Athena in King all the time. He has her fearless spirit. And physically, I notice little things. Like he has her little nose. And even her feet. She had very flat feet and his feet are just like hers.”
Athena Curry was 20 years old when she disappeared on May 27, 2011 after reportedly leaving her boyfriend’s house on Beecher Street in Atlanta, Georgia, following an argument. Nearly a decade later, her family is desperate to solve the mystery of what happened to Athena.
“Nine years later, we have no answers,” Aisha said. “At this point, I don’t believe she’s alive, but I pray every day that we find out what happened to her.”
Athena grew up in Oregon, the youngest of five children. She went to Grant High School where she played softball and ran track. In an effort to get in-state college tuition in Georgia, Athena moved to Duluth, Georgia to live with her older sister Aisha during her senior year. After graduating high school, she enrolled in the University of Phoenix. Aisha said her sister wanted to be a pediatrician.
“That was her dream,” Aisha said. “And she worked hard. She had King and she was a devoted mother to him for 16 months. And the whole time, she continued to work toward her goal of becoming a pediatrician. We never stopped planning for her future.”
But Athena never got the chance to achieve her goal.
Just days before she disappeared, Athena had news to share with her sister. She was planning to move in with King’s father Yousef Mujahid and they would finally be together as a family.
“I was a little shocked because I didn’t think they were back together. I didn’t even think they had been communicating,” Aisha said.
Just before Memorial Day Weekend 2011, Athena and King traveled by public transportation the 45 minutes from Duluth to Mujahid’s home in Atlanta. They were planning to spend the holiday weekend looking at rental properties, Aisha said.
Aisha told Dateline the last time she spoke to her sister was just after midnight on Friday, May 27.
“Athena had been at his house for a few days at that point and I just wanted to check on her and King,” Aisha said. “Earlier that day, I was talking to my mom and she told me she had a sick feeling. So I called Athena.”
Aisha called around midnight and said her sister sounded like she had been sleeping. Athena assured her she was OK and they hung up. It was the last time they ever spoke.
When Athena and King didn’t return home on Monday, Aisha tried to call again, but Athena’s phone was off.
Memorial Day passed and on Tuesday, Mujahid texted Aisha asking if she had heard from Athena. He claimed they had an argument and Athena stormed out of the house around 3 a.m. on Saturday, leaving behind her belongings and her son. She didn’t have a car, so it appeared she had left on foot, he said.
Aisha said she immediately called police and neighborhood searches were conducted in the area. But Athena was nowhere to be found.
“It was my worst nightmare come true,” Aisha said. “Something had happened to Athena. I just know it. She didn’t just walk away from her life. From her son. King was her pride and joy. She would never, ever leave him.”
Atlanta Police Sergeant Cheree Herbert told NBC affiliate WXIA the couple’s argument had stemmed from text messages sent to Mujahid from another woman that Athena saw on his phone when he got home late that night.
In a 2017 interview with Crime Watch Daily, Sgt. Herbert said investigators have to consider Mujahid a person of interest, "because he was the last one who spoke to Athena and he shared a relationship with her and has a child with her.
According to WXIA, Mujahid denies having anything to do with Athena’s disappearance and family members said he helped search for her in the days and weeks following her disappearance.
“Honestly, anything could have happened,” Mujahid told WXIA.
He added that he knew he would be looked at as a suspect.
"I'm her boyfriend. I was with her at the time. I can't blame them," he said. "They can think what they want to think ... I'm not trying to convince you or anyone I'm innocent."
Mujahid told WXIA he knew something was wrong when Athena didn’t return after their fight.
Athena’s family believes she could have walked out on her relationship with Mujahid, but she would never have walked out on her son.
“I have no doubt that she walked outside to cool off from their argument,” Aisha said. “But where would she go? It was the middle of the night, nothing was open and she didn’t have a car. And she would never just walk away from her son.”
Now, nine years later, Aisha said she is reminded of Athena’s absence as another Memorial Day weekend comes and goes without any answers or closure.
“I believe someone somewhere knows something,” Aisha said. “It’s hard to imagine someone carrying this secret this long and not telling anyone. I can only pray that they feel it in their heart to come forward.”
Athena’s son King is now 10 years old. After splitting his time between Aisha and Mujahid’s family since his mother’s disappearance, he was officially adopted by Aisha five years ago. Aisha said King has memories of his father, like eating honey buns on the bus. But he doesn’t really remember his mother. So she makes it a point of telling King all about her.
“Wherever she is, I know she’s watching over King,” Aisha said. “I hope she is proud.”
At the time of her disappearance, Athena was 5’8” tall, weighing 150 pounds, with black hair and brown eyes. Her nose and lower lip are pierced, and she has several tattoos, including the words "King Kare" on her left arm, a bow wrapped around her left arm, a rose and the word "Rocky" on her right wrist, a music note on the left side of her neck and a tribal symbol on the top of her left hand.
Anyone who may have information about Athena’s disappearance is asked to call Atlanta Police Crime Stoppers at (404) 577-8477.