Local News

Would-be pilot's girlfriend: He wanted to die

Posted August 19, 2011 9:59 p.m. EDT
Updated August 20, 2011 4:35 p.m. EDT

— The man who allegedly stole a plane and crashed it into an Alamance County field Tuesday was trying to kill himself, his former girlfriend told WRAL News Friday.

Jessica Johnson said Curtis Mellott, the father of her child, was depressed and suicidal.

Authorities say Mellott, 46, of 114 Mel Oak Drive, took the single-engine plane from Horace Williams Airport in Chapel Hill sometime between 9 p.m. Monday and 6 a.m. Tuesday. It was found crashed Tuesday morning a grove of trees about 25 miles away in Graham. He surrendered to police Thursday afternoon and faces charges of felony possession of stolen property in Alamance County and felony larceny in Orange County. Federal charges are possible if he was flying without a valid pilot's license.

Court records show Johnson and Mellott had a turbulent relationship. Each had filed domestic violence charges against the other. Johnston said she left Mellott about two weeks ago and returned home to her father's house with her seven-month-old son. Mellott's criminal record shows he is currently prohibited from having contact with her or the child.

Despite their recent break-up, Johnson said the couple was still in touch. A friend called her Tuesday to tell her Mellott had been in a plane crash, Johnson said, and the pair went to pick him up. 

He so covered with blood that it was difficult to tell where he was injured, Johnson said. 

"He wasn't scared that he had stolen a plane. He wasn't scared that he had crashed the plane," she said.

Mellott's concern, instead, what that he survived. "He told me, 'I keep trying to kill myself, and I can't die,'" Johnson said. She said he told her, "No matter how I try, God won't take me."

After they dropped Mellott off at home, Johnson said she didn't hear from him again until shortly before his arrest. Despite that, the state Division of Social Services came and took her child.

She said social workers did not give her a reason when they took her son, but she assumes that they thought she might try to flee with Mellott.

"From the day this child was born, I have done nothing but be there for him. I would do anything in this world for this baby," she said. "Whatever it takes, he's got a million family members that are willing to take him before social services tries to put him in foster care."

Johnson said she had no intention of running with Mellott, and she would always put her children first.

"I had no idea Curtis did this, or I would have tried to put a stop to it," she said.