Mother of convicted child killer: 'I have to forgive him'
Posted April 4, 2014
Updated April 5, 2014
Smithfield, N.C. — Jonathan Richardson’s mother was in the courtroom Thursday night when he was handcuffed and taken back to prison after being sentenced to death for the torture and killing of his former girlfriend’s daughter, 4-year-old Teghan Skiba.
And she hurt.
"I understand the anger and bitterness because I feel it, too, after what happened to Teghan,” Sandy Creech said Friday. “But he's still my son, and I love him dearly. And he needs me now more than ever."
Being there for her son while he is on death row means looking at him through bars and shatterproof glass. Creech likely will never touch him again.
Richardson, 25, was convicted of first-degree murder, first-degree kidnapping, first-degree sexual offense of a child and felony child abuse in Teghan's death in July 2010. She died from a fatal head wound three days after he took her to a Johnston County hospital, claiming she fell off a bed.
The lengthy and emotional trial revealed the unspeakable horror of her abuse – she was whipped with a frayed electrical cord, had a nail pried off her finger and her arms broken, and suffered severe trauma to her genitals. Jurors, witnesses and even veteran law enforcement personnel were brought to tears at times during the testimony.
"I'm in disbelief that the Jonathan I know could do this," Creech said. "I have to forgive him, not for him but for myself. I hope the community can do the same."
Teghan’s mother, Helen Reyes, left the girl in his care while she went out of state for military training. Reyes is facing a charge of felony child neglect. She was not in court for the sentencing Thursday.
Creech said she never met Teghan, and she never knew that her son was caring for the child alone when she died. Richardson, Reyes and Teghan lived together in a shed behind his grandparents’ home in Smithfield.
"There's a lot of healing that needs to be done," Creech said. "That will come with time and faith in God."
Creech does have a message for Teghan’s family:
“Words cannot even express how sorry I am that this happened. My heart goes out to them and the pain that they’ve had to go through. I can’t imagine what they’ve gone through. I’m just so sorry – I just didn’t know. I had no idea that Teghan was there, I just didn’t know. I just had no idea. I would have done something had I only known, and I’m hoping they can heal because I know the pain is horrible for them and has been.”