Local News

Teghan Skiba's mom described as kind, loving

Posted March 11, 2014

— Defense attorneys trying to keep Jonathan Douglas Richardson off death row say the alleged physical abuse of Teghan Skiba started long before the 4-year-old's death nearly four years ago and that the child's mother knew about it and approved of it.

But jurors in the 25-year-old's capital murder trial heard Tuesday from Teghan's maternal aunt, who said the child's mother, Helen Reyes, was a kind mother who loved her daughter very much.

"She loved Teghan. She tried to better her life for Teghan," Maira Reyes said.

The extent to which Helen Reyes – who could testify this week – would punish her daughter, Maira Reyes said, would be time out or a pop with the hand on the child's bottom.

Richardson's treatment, on the other hand, was quite different. She recalled of one occasion in which the crying child had been dropped off by her grandparents.

"Jonathan grabbed her by the arms and shook her to stop crying," Maira Reyes said.

Johnston County prosecutors say Helen Reyes was in New Mexico for Army Reserve training in July 2010 and had left Teghan in Richardson's care.

They contend Richardson physically and sexually abused the child for 10 days inside a small shed behind his grandparents' home before taking her to a local hospital for a fatal head injury and more than five dozen bite marks on her body.

Defense attorneys, however, say Richardson – damaged by years of abuse, uncontrolled anger and untreated mental problems – never sexually abused Teghan and that her death was an "unbelievable tragedy" that Richardson never meant to happen.

He loved Reyes and Tegan and wanted the three of them to be the perfect family, Richardson's attorneys say, but he had no idea how to care for a little girl.

Helen Reyes, they say, had other child care options but chose to leave Teghan with him.

By July 2010, however, Helen Reyes' relationship with Richardson had become a source of tension for her family, Maira Reyes said, and her sister and Teghan had moved out of her mother's house following a disagreement.

Richardson's second-cousin, Matthew Daughtry, testified Tuesday, describing Helen Reyes as being very quiet.

"Jonathan would yell at Helen. It would escalate to cussing," he said. "I never saw anything physical – but (there was) verbal abuse."

Richardson and Daughtry often spent time together hunting on Daughtry's property, he said, but he stopped hanging out with Richardson in spring 2010 when Richardson began drinking heavily and started using his property without permission.

Daughtry said he was also upset by Richardson’s rude behavior toward his grandparents, especially when they would tell him to do something.

"He would not listen. He would challenge them back. He would be very dominating over them," Daughtry said. "It came to the point where he told them to shut up. It was going to be Jonathan's way."


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  • Debbie Norris Mar 12, 2014
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    Oh I get madder and madder every time I hear testimony! Really??? Where were these family members when Teghan really needed them? If I saw someone shake my niece for any reason, there would be some serious consequences... Mother needs charging with murder too...she caused her death!

  • Billy Mae Sutten Mar 12, 2014
    user avatar

    "Jonathan grabbed her by the arms and shook her to stop crying," Maira Reyes said.

    She saw this an allowed it? Really?

    Also, If she saw this then you know Teghan's mom saw much worse! Why didn't anyone defend this innocent child?

    He is guilty and wasting our tax payer dollars.

  • brandy213122 Mar 12, 2014

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    Oh wow. Another one. Let me enlighten you, the pics that I have seen posted on the news sites, the ones where you can tell she was obviously 4 years old, you can see visible bruises. You can see that the closer to her death, the less she smiles. On one picture, I counted at least 5 different bruises on her arms. I saw a couple of bruises on her legs in another picture. So you can honestly sit here and accuse of all of us for being "judgemental"?

  • Jane Tuohey Mar 12, 2014
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    Do we even know if Teghan's side of the family saw her after her Mom left for New Mexico. If they didn't then you can't blame any of them, I do however question why Richardson's grandparents allowed the little one to live in a shed and they didn't "hear anything", can you imagine how painful the injuries were, come on, if anyone is to blame it is them...

  • skimchai Mar 12, 2014

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    Please - if you know the family so well, give us their side of the story. You can't because they have no side. Teghan's mother, aunts, Richardson's grandparents and cousin - everyone who knew abuse was taking place and did nothing - are sick and negligent. If one person had stood up for this poor little girl, she would still be alive today. Everyone involved was more concerned with protecting themselves from Richardson than protecting an innocent child. This story haunts me and has haunted me since 2010. I hope everyone involved who watched this happened never has a moment's peace. They don't deserve it.

  • Judy Fergerson Mar 11, 2014
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    Dr. Barbaro told jurors that the bite marks on Skiba's body were an exact match for Richardson. He said some were so extreme that the flesh was literally torn off. He said there were more than 60 marks that covered her all over. "Bite mark injuries would inflict a lot of pain," said Barbaro. "The pain of tearing off skin would be excruciating." I CANNOT BELIEVE THIS LITTLE ONE DID NOT SCREAM FROM THE TORTURE THAT WAS BEING INFLICTED UPON HER AND THE GRANDPARENTS DID NOT HEAR HER SCREAMS AND COME TO HER AID. All I can say is they should be charged for neglect of not reporting of those screams to the authorities - if they had perhaps the little would be alive today. How they can sleep at night knowing this was going on right under their noses is beyond me.

  • sweetcaramelgrl08 Mar 11, 2014

    How many of you actually know the family? How many of you know the whole story? You people who have so much to say only know part of the story or hear part of the story! You honestly need to stop being so judgmental bc you people don't know absolutely nothing. You honestly think that they would let something happen to a family member they loved? I mean half of you people commenting probably don't have nothing better to do than jus comment take yourself to court and actually listen to everything before you leave comments! May this little baby rest in peace! And for the rest of y'all go do something better than putting your two cents in bits and pieces of what you hear honestly!!

  • Justic4All Mar 11, 2014

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    I'm with you all the way on this. I just want to add that it is possible the entire family saw nothing wrong with this since it is how they were raised? Why else in this day and age would direct family members turn a blind eye to the obvious ongoing abuse? I hope this gene pool ends with this episode.

  • NC Reader Mar 11, 2014

    They sleep at night knowing that he will either get life in prison or death AND they will have done their sworn duty to defend him. I'm sure they are horrified also and can't wait to be done with this trial.

  • diana123 Mar 11, 2014

    everyone involved needs to go to prison