Local News

Person County Deputies Investigate Baby's Murder

Posted July 19, 2000

— Person County deputies are investigating a baby's death.

Six-month-old Devon Richardson died Wednesday night at UNC Hospitals. Person County Sheriff Dennis Oakley has launched a murder investigation.

"This won't be child abuse -- this will be murder," Oakley said. "This is a murder investigation."

Two days earlier, EMS crews arrived at a home in the Timberlake community to find the baby struggling to breathe. He was taken eventually to UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, where doctors determined the baby was brain-dead. He was taken off life support and died later.

The child suffered a severe skull fracture, Oakley said, possibly having been thrown against a wall or table.

Three adults lived in the house with the child -- the baby's mother, Elizabeth Richardson; her boyfriend, Mark Oakley, 23; and the mother's teenage sister.

According to Sheriff Oakley no one has been charged, but all three adults living in the house have been interviewed and will be offered polygraph tests. The Person County Sheriff will meet with the SBI and the district attorney Friday to talk about their next steps in the case.

The infant's killer would need a great deal of strength to inflict such serious injuries, Sheriff Oakley said.

The deputy who responded to the initial call sensed something suspicious.

"He said it just didn't look right, it didn't feel right," Sheriff Oakley said.

Neighbor Denise Morris called 911 for the baby's mother, who was screaming that her child was not breathing.

"It's horrible. It's something I would never, ever want to experience. It's devastating," Morris said.

The small Timberlake community is still reeling from another murder of a child. In late June,a 14-year-old girl was found stabbed to deathin a Timberlake mobile home. The latest death strikes deep at the heart of the community.

"It upsets me. Babies are babies -- they're helpless," said the sheriff.

The child's mother is making funeral arrangements as the investigation continues.

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