Local News

Mother of slain 4-year-old charged with neglect

Posted July 29, 2010
Updated July 30, 2010

— The mother of a 4-year-old girl who authorities say died after being tortured was charged Thursday with negligent child abuse.

Teghan Skiba died July 19 at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, three days after she had been taken to a Smithfield hospital. She had cuts, lacerations, bite marks, head trauma and sexual assault injuries, authorities said.

Jonathan Douglas Richardson, 21, of 750 Old Sanders Road in Smithfield, is charged with first-degree murder and child abuse in connection with her death.

Teghan and her mother, Helen Reyes, had been living with Richardson in a barn on his grandparents' property for four weeks before she left her daughter in his care on July 6 to go to New Mexico for military training.

Teghan Skiba Sheriff: Mother knew daughter was being abused

A Johnston County magistrate set a $50,000 bond for Reyes, 26, whose address is listed on the arrest warrant as 5255 Passenger Place in Raleigh. She remained in jail Thursday evening.

"She neglected to carry out her motherly duties," Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said, calling the case the worst child abuse he and his investigators have ever seen.

The arrest warrant alleges that the physical abuse, which included forcing Teghan to consume alcohol, started before Reyes left town, but she still chose to leave the girl with Richardson.

"She had witnessed her child being beaten at the hands of Jonathan Richardson before she left, so yes, she (was) a lot to blame for this," Bizzell said. "Children are helpless. We have a so-called mother that just walked away."

In a Wake County Human Services investigative report released Wednesday, social workers determined Reyes had failed "to protect her child and to entrust her child to an appropriate caretaker."

"The finding concerning Ms. Reyes does not mean that she personally inflicted injuries on Teghan," the report stated. "The definition of abuse in (state law) includes creating or allowing to be created a substantial risk of serious physical injury by other than accidental means."

Richardson initially told hospital workers that Teghan had fallen off the bed. He later told Johnston County investigators that he "lost it" and whipped the girl with a cord after she went to the bathroom in the bed they were sharing, according to search warrants. He explained that he is "bipolar and little things set him off."

The report noted that Wake County social workers never received any reports of suspected abuse or neglect of Teghan and that Johnston County Child Protective Services never investigated the case because that agency didn't know the girl was living in Smithfield.


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  • shortcake53 Jul 30, 2010

    Everytime this woman looks in a mirror she will see her little girl. She looked just like her mom. She will never escape that.

  • sunneyone Jul 30, 2010

    She probably will be court martialled, but I don't think this case meets the requirements for federal charges, heinous as Teagan's murder at the hands of Richardson is.

    Also, she didn't perform the abuse. The warrant says "subjected her to". I'm curious to find out whether Richardson was abusing both of them or not.

  • garden Jul 30, 2010

    These sub-humans are not good enough to be called animals. Animals do not torture one another.

  • u stand corrected Jul 30, 2010

    I think she is MORE guilty than the "man" who killed the child.

  • opinion2010 Jul 30, 2010

    $50K.. that's it... geez.... Drug dealers bail is more than that.

  • parcman Jul 30, 2010

    "Praise GOD!!! Now what about the grandparents who knew the child was left in these conditions? They could of done something to help prevent this."

    amsn, what type of grandparents would let their grandson and a 4 yo stay in a shed with no elec or water....they are also responsible in gods eyes

  • lgodwin2 Jul 30, 2010

    In short, the mother should be sentenced to a lengthy prison term, and the boyfriend should be executed. When will child abuse end? Only when the laws come down harder.

  • fmeyer Jul 30, 2010

    that's the problem w/ the typical u.s. justice system. cons laugh @ the process, trial dates being postponed, cancellend, continued; plea bargains; using mental illness as a crutch; child rapists & murderers being baby-sat in isolated custody; some judges who do their job & others who coddle criminals & let them walk. Justice is hit or miss in this country. Perps see this & get away w/ crimes against children as we speak b/c they know they'll milk the system & re-offend. They need to be afraid of what happens to cowards who hurt children.

  • wakemom Jul 30, 2010

    I agree. I think the headline ("Mother of slain 4-year-old charged with neglect".) is misleading. this implies that the mother is responsible for the childs death.

    how is this misleading? she is responsible.

  • lassitercharlene Jul 30, 2010

    As uncgal put it in her own words "I did not know the mother actually knew about these things before she left." Well uncgal you still don't know that she knew , you are forning your oppinion based on what Mr. Bizzell has said on public TV. I think Ms. Reyes and the grandparents should be charged and IF they are found GUILTY by a jury of their peers then they should be given the maximum sentence allowed under the law. I still don't know that she knew, when 12 jurors tell me she knew, not Mr Bizzell, then she will be guilty !!!!