WPD: Second arrest made after 17-year-old girl fatally struck on MLK Parkway

Updated: May. 18, 2021 at 4:05 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Police have arrested two people after a 17-year-old Brunswick County girl was hit and killed on a busy Wilmington roadway early Sunday morning.

Joseph Leopold Small Jr., 59, of Wilmington, was taken into custody Monday night and charged with felony hit and run resulting in serious injury/death, robbery with a dangerous weapon, and second-degree kidnapping.

Police say the passenger and owner of the vehicle, identified as 69-year-old Rebecker Wilson, was also arrested and charged with robbery with a dangerous weapon and second-degree kidnapping. The two live at the same North Kerr Avenue home, officials say.

A spokesperson for the WPD said the kidnapping and robbery charges are not connected to the deadly hit-and-run. The spokesperson said detectives have declined to release additional details about the two incidents.

A prior news release from the WPD stated officers responded to the Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway near Kerr Avenue just after 2 a.m. Sunday after receiving a call about a female lying in the middle of the roadway.

“Upon arrival officers discovered a deceased female. At this time, it is being treated as a hit/run fatality,” a news release from the WPD stated. A police spokesperson declined to release the victim’s name due to her age.

Arrest warrants obtained Wednesday allege that Small and Wilson used a handgun to rob a person, who was at least 16 years old, of an iPhone 6 and an iPhone 7 on Sunday. The name of the alleged victim in the armed robbery was whited out on the warrants.

Small and Wilson were arrested around 9:30 p.m. Monday, just hours after photos were released of a hit-and-run suspect on the Wilmington Police Department’s Facebook page.

Update: Hit & Run fatality The Wilmington Police Department traffic unit needs your help in identifying suspect and...

Posted by Wilmington, NC Police Department on Monday, May 17, 2021

The WPD previously announced that investigators were looking for the driver of a silver, 2012 Chrysler Town and Country van. Small was believed to be operating the van as a vehicle-for-hire, picking up fares from downtown Wilmington prior to and during bar closing time; however, the vehicle is not a registered taxi for hire.

Small is currently in the New Hanover County Jail under a $500,000 bond while Wilson received an $80,000 bond.

If you have any information, contact the Wilmington Police Department at (910)-343-3609 or use the Wilmington, NC PD app for anonymous methods. You can also text an anonymous tip to 847411 (tip411) by including the keyword WPDNC.

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