Missing Gaston woman faked disappearance, police say

slyttle@charlotteobserver.com edepompei@charlotteobserver.comJuly 9, 2014 

The case of a missing Gaston County woman feared drowned off North Myrtle Beach took an abrupt turn Wednesday when police said Amy Lynette Arrington and her husband staged the disappearance to avoid the wife’s court date in Charlotte.

As of late Wednesday afternoon, authorities in Charlotte and in North Myrtle Beach said they did not know the whereabouts of Amy and Paul David Arrington.

Patrick Dowling, a spokesman for the North Myrtle Beach police, said Paul Arrington will be charged with filing a false police report. And the Mecklenburg County district attorney’s office said a warrant has been issued for Amy Arrington’s arrest.

Paul Arrington filed a missing person report Saturday evening with North Myrtle Beach, saying his 42-year-old wife told him she was going into the water. That touched off a land and sea search along the Horry County coast that lasted from Saturday evening until late Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Amy Arrington missed a scheduled appearance Monday in Mecklenburg County court on charges including identity theft, forgery and obtaining property by false pretense.

“The court issued an order for her arrest when she failed to appear Monday,” a spokeswoman for the Mecklenburg district attorney’s office said Wednesday afternoon.

While searching the water, North Myrtle Beach police on Tuesday also began looking into the possibility that Arrington had disappeared on land. And by Wednesday morning, Dowling said, “police determined that Amy Lynette Arrington did not drown in the ocean off North Myrtle Beach on July 5.”

Rather, he said, North Myrtle Beach police and other law enforcement agencies determined Amy and Paul Arrington “conspired for her to disappear to avoid having to show up in court in North Carolina to answer to charges filed against her in that state.”

Amy Arrington’s criminal record dates to 1992 with charges mostly in Union, Gaston and Mecklenburg counties. Among the charges: credit card theft, larceny and financial card fraud.

According to a search of court records by the Observer, Amy Arrington served more than two years in prison for identity theft and fraud. She was released in 2008.

Her mother-in-law, Shirley Arrington, told the Observer on Tuesday that she was “floored” by the news reports of Amy Arrington’s legal problems. Shirley Arrington could not be reached Wednesday, after news broke that the disappearance allegedly had been staged.

Paul Arrington told police he watched his wife walk waist-deep into the water about 4:40 p.m. Saturday before he lay down on the beach and turned over.

About 20 minutes later, Paul Arrington said, he looked toward the water for his wife. He told police he saw a woman who he thought was his wife, but after he approached her, he realized it wasn’t. He then reported his wife missing to a lifeguard.

Speaking to the Observer on Tuesday, Paul Arrington’s brother, Todd, said he hasn’t talked to his brother much in the past year. Todd Arrington said his brother and Amy Arrington met through an online dating service.

“She came to my wedding, and I’ve met her a few times, hung out a little bit, but I really didn’t know anything about her,” Todd Arrington said.

Regarding Amy Arrington’s criminal past and pending charges, Todd Arrington said, “I don’t think Paul really had a clue.”

Court records show Amy Arrington was previously married. The couple divorced last year.

Lyttle: 704-358-6107; Twitter: @slyttle

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