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Slain girl's grandparents: We miss her

Posted August 1, 2010
Updated August 2, 2010

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— The paternal grandparents of a 4-year-old slain girl say they "cannot stop thinking of all the great memories she has given to us."

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.

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

Gerald and Sarah Skiba, of Youngsville, said Sunday they had not seen their granddaughter in recent months. Teghan's father, Jerry, was facing drug charges and the girl's mother, Helen Reyes, had cut off communication, the Skibas said.

The Skibas said they repeatedly tried telephoning Teghan but could never get through. They said they considered hiring an attorney in an attempt to get temporary custody of the girl but decided against it.

In North Carolina, grandparents do not have visitation or custody rights, a stance recently upheld by the Supreme Court. Under the law, they cannot seek custody of a grandchild unless there is solid evidence a parent is unfit.

"It’s so hard, they want you to prove so much," Sarah Skiba said.

Child welfare officials have said that they received no reports of abuse regarding Teghan before her death. But Reyes, 26, of 5255 Passenger Place in Raleigh, was charged last week with negligent child abuse in connection with Teghan's death.

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

Skibas said they had offered to watch Teghan while Reyes underwent military training. The grandparents said they tried to reach Reyes about her trip but were only able to talk with her sister, who claimed the training had been canceled, the Skibas said.

Investigators determined that the physical abuse of Teghan, which included forcing her to consume alcohol, started before Reyes left town, Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell said. So, she was aware of the situation in which she was leaving her daughter, he said.

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

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 Skibas said they wished Teghan's care had been left up to them and that they miss her.

"She made us feel so good just being around her," Gerald Skiba said of Teghan.

Reyes' is out of jail on bond and her next court hearing is scheduled for Aug.12. Richardson remains in jail under a $1 million bond.

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  • claytordr Aug 5, 2010

    U know it has been hard to read what all happened to this child. It has just taken my heart over. When I think about the pain this baby was put though it is crazy. Just thank God she will feel no more pain. As for mom and boyfriend I hope they hurt everyday.

  • claytordr Aug 5, 2010

    shorcake53 there is a group in Virginia where I am from. Virginiagrands. If u want to talk sometime email claytordr@yahoo.com and you can find Virginiagrands on yahoo groups. It is not just for Virginia Grandparents but all grandparents raising grands

  • shortcake53 Aug 3, 2010

    claytordr, Bless you. We need to form a support group for grandparents! There are a lot of us out here raising grandchildren and at times it would be nice to talk to someone else in that situation. Best of luck to you..

  • StevePyle Aug 3, 2010

    Again, worth reiterating...these are the PATERNAL grandparents, NOT the parents of Helen Reyes (the mother charged with child neglect)and NOT the parents of accused-murderer Jonathan Richardson. Richardson's parents are the ones who owned the barn where girl was abused. These are 3 different sets of people...please stop confusing them. It is painful to read the bashing of the PATERNAL grandparents. While, yes, their son was recently put behind bars on drug charges, these paternal grandparents (as the photos depict) did nothing but show this little girl love, only to be suddenly cut off by the birth mother. Yes, no grandparent should be discourgaged by North Carolina law from seeking custody of a child they love or whom they know is in harm's way, but these grandparents had only recently lost touch and said they had NO EVIDENCE their grandchild was being abused or even knew exactly where she was currently staying. Imagine the guilt and loss they must be feeling before you comment her

  • claytordr Aug 3, 2010

    shortcake53,
    I agree with you. I am a grandmother that HAS custody of three grands. A twelve year old, four year old, and a three year old. I would also do it all over again to protect them.

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Aug 2, 2010

    Well I want everyone to hear me out not jump me. I am a victim so I have a worry about passing any laws on grand parents rights. My father abused me, every way that he could, then he done drugs, then my mother tried to abuse me but me I wouldn't let her get there, & she let men take over her life, there is a lot to that, then I have a child, & his father was abusive I am fighting for full custody, then his father which would be my childs father is a really bad felon, so bad he is a sex predator, for anyone, the mother of what I call a boy she isn't a grand mother. She lets her grand kids call her mom, she is very wired, & there is some things about her that aren't good, she has had parties & kids are drinking beer, & yes I called to get help, I don't know if they ever done anything. I never heard anything about it. By that point my child was born & I was gone.

  • windsofdestiny25 Aug 2, 2010

    this is to the grandma amd grandpa of little miss skiba she is a very pretty little girl im am very sorry for ur lost but now maybe it now time for north carolina changes some of there laws far as grandparents go if so this little angel would still be here today but now its ur turn to make people open up there eyes bc grand parents have right too she will awlays be in ur hearts but u can be with her again because she is with the good lord she will never know what pain is again and this little angel didnt not deserve that and this hits home bc i know her mom and went to school with her i just dont know why she wouldnt protect her child ..... shewill have to live with this rest of her life

  • Baybee Doll Aug 2, 2010

    What a cute little girl, and undoubtedly very sweet. So sorry for your loss.

  • mamabearprotectinghercub Aug 2, 2010

    I am not disrespecting you. I am just talking, I don't know why you are getting mad. You are talking to someone who is a person who is a victim, & you are saying you know it all. Read what you put. You have to understand how I feel not just me, but others, it could be anyone, even my own child. I protect my child, with a lock & key. But I am a victim & if you want to be ugly then be that way. I am just trying to talk to you & that other comment that you made isn't put right. You act as if you know it all. I am just trying to talk. I am actually for once trying to talk, I don't do this all the time, because of my granny I am going to talk so I can make a stand for children & even my own child. I never want to see a child get hurt, I don't like it.

  • shortcake53 Aug 2, 2010

    Shaking my head, some people here cant read or comprehend. Its pointless to try to get an idea across. Putting Standing and Wildcat on my ignore list.

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