Local News

Deputy: Tortured child's injuries 'most horrifying thing I've ever seen'

Posted March 5, 2014

— The injuries to 4-year-old Teghan Skiba were so severe that emotions overtook the seasoned Johnston County sheriff's deputy responding July 16, 2010, to UNC Hospitals, where doctors and nurses were doing everything possible to save the dying child's life.

Teghan Skiba WRAL.com archive: Teghan Skiba murder case

"It immediately brought tears to my eyes. It's the most horrifying thing I've ever seen done to a human being – especially a child," Deputy Matt DeSilva – now with the Wake County Sheriff's Office – told jurors Wednesday morning on the eighth day of testimony in Jonathan Douglas Richardson's capital murder trial.

"I've never seen anything like that in the years that I've been doing this as a law enforcement officer," he added. "And I've seen a lot – but not like that."

DeSilva broke down on the witness stand – the second law enforcement officer to do so – prompting Superior Court Judge Thomas Lock to call for a 25-minute break to allow the deputy to regain his composure.

Richardson, meanwhile, sat during the break, smiling often.

Doctors who treated the child have testified that Teghan had bleeding in her skull from blunt force head injuries and that she also had injuries consistent with sexual abuse as well as bite marks, whip marks, lesions, scabs and scars covering nearly her entire body.

Richardson, who told doctors that she fell, initially took her to a local hospital in Johnston County. But medical staff there had the child transferred to UNC Hospital's North Carolina Children's Hospital in Chapel Hill.

Teghan died three days later.

When DeSilva returned to finish his testimony, he described Richardson's demeanor after his arrest as "mocking."

"'What are y'all gonna do? Tie me down and cut me up?'" DeSilva recalled Richardson saying.

"I just looked at him," DeSilva said, adding that Richardson had a "slight little grin on his face."

Johnston County prosecutors say 25-year-old Richardson – the boyfriend of Teghan's mother – tormented, tortured and terrorized the little girl for 10 days in a shed behind the Smithfield home of his grandparents while his girlfriend was away attending training for the Army Reserves.

Defense attorneys trying to keep Richardson – who faces charges of first-degree murder, felony child abuse, kidnapping and sexual offense with a child – from death row contend otherwise.

They say he never sexually abused Teghan and didn't mean to kill her, but he lacked experience and parenting skills. They blame her death on his undiagnosed mental problems, his own experiences of being abused as a child and approval from Teghan's mother that physically abusing the child was OK.


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  • 678devilish Mar 6, 2014

    Do this young man realize what he has done to this child?

  • 678devilish Mar 6, 2014

    Only 4 years old. How can a person do this horrible things to a child. This man should get life in prison and not ever see parole. I hope the mother now realize the mistake she made in allowing this man into her life, eventually taking her child's life. May Teghan Skiba rest in peace.

  • Dreamer707 Mar 6, 2014

    the father was locked up for over two and a half years for drug trafficking. He then got out after Teghans an's death. Then he went back to jail for several more months. Just got out again in November. I also know him and I wish that he had been doing what he was supposed to do and not dealing with drugs so he could have been taking care of his daughter.

  • Pibble_Lvr Mar 6, 2014

    Answering the question of where was Teghans dad when all this happend. He was in jail for minor drug charges. I have met mom Helen, Dad Jerry, and Teghan thru some friends of mine a few times. They seemed perfectly normal to me. She was taken care of and looked healthy However that was 4-5 years ago and mom and dad were together at the time. This is a very sad case and having met them makes it much worse. Meeting the mom I would have had no idea she would let that happen to her child. That just goes to show you can never really know someone. Rest in Peace little Teghan. You are missed everyday!

  • FarmerUSA Mar 6, 2014

    Have they reported where the mother's family was during all of this or where this child's birth father is? Just curious. God Bless this baby for having gone through what was done to her. God Bless the doctors, nurses, other hospital personnel, EMTs and police officers who had to respond to this horrific crime.

  • wayneboyd Mar 6, 2014

    I cannot fathom how any human being, in their right mind or not could be this heartless, but sadly somewhere in the world its probably playing out again right now.
    He certainly hasn't shown one human emotion in any photos I've seen of him, he actually looks as if he's proud of being accused of his actions.
    For the past week I've had horrible thoughts about how this poor child must have suffered at his hands. May God have mercy on his soul. And may she rest in peace. She's certainly spent enough time in hell.

  • Lorna Schuler Mar 5, 2014
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    Thank you! Everybody wants a witch hunt and to blame numerous people. How about put the blame squarely where it belongs... on this animal

  • Justic4All Mar 5, 2014

    Everyone knows how I feel about how LEO's sometimes treat unarmed people. When someone does something like this to any child, I'd easily let it go since I also support a swifter justice system for murders.

  • Justic4All Mar 5, 2014

    "Richardson, meanwhile, sat during the break, smiling often" Trying to establish stupidity as a viable defense.. Just get him into the general prison population as quickly as possible. Spinkle in some pictures and justice will be swiftly served.

  • kholloway5213 Mar 5, 2014

    There is a serious concern here that this individual may have committed other crimes prior to this. I hope that someone is checking into any unsolved crimes. This guy didn't start here.