Local News

Report gives new details about 4-year-old's death

Posted July 28, 2010 10:00 a.m. EDT
Updated July 28, 2010 6:47 p.m. EDT

— Social workers never received any reports of suspected abuse or neglect of a 4-year-old girl whom authorities say died this month after being tortured by her mother's boyfriend, according to a report released Wednesday.

Teghan Skiba died July 19 at UNC Hospitals in Chapel Hill, three days after Jonathan Douglas Richardson took her to a Smithfield hospital, initially claiming she had fallen off a bed, authorities said.

She had cuts, lacerations, bite marks, head trauma and sexual assault injuries, authorities said, prompting hospital staff to call law enforcement and child protective services.

Richardson, 21, of 750 Old Sanders Road, is charged with first-degree murder and child abuse.

According to a , Teghan was unconscious when social workers arrived at UNC Hospitals and that doctors were unsure if she would live through the night.

Doctors determined the child to be brain dead on July 19 and pronounced her dead, the report continued.

The report also explained that Johnston County Child Protective Services never investigated the case because the agency did not know the girl was living in Smithfield.

"Johnston County had judged that the mother and child’s residence was in Wake County with Teghan’s maternal grandmother," the report stated.

It went on to stay that 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.

The barn had no running water or a bathroom, authorities have said.

Social workers decided that Wake County would petition for legal custody of Teghan because of "the seriousness of intentionally caused injuries, (Teghan's) father’s incarceration, and the mother’s failure to protect her child and to entrust her child to an appropriate caretaker," according to the report.

"It was agreed that the mother and relatives could have brief visits with Teghan ... under supervision of hospital personnel," the report stated.

Social workers also substantiated that Reyes abused the girl by leaving her in Richardson's custody.

"The finding concerning Ms. Reyes does not mean that she personally inflicted injuries on Teghan," the report said. "The definition of abuse in G.S. 7B-101 includes creating or allowing to be created a substantial risk of serious physical injury by other than accidental means."

Richardson told Johnston County sheriff's detectives that he "lost it" and whipped the girl with a cord after she used the bathroom in the bed they were sharing, according to search warrants. He explained that he is "bipolar and little things set him off."

Investigators seized numerous items from Richardson's barn, his grandparents' house and the 2001 GMC pickup truck he used to take the girl to the hospital.

They included an air mattress, a condom wrapper, a shotgun, a rifle, ammunition, knives, a camera, duct tape pieces, a green, leafy substance, drug paraphernalia, guitar string and a drop cord, according to a warrant.

Johnston County Sheriff Steve Bizzell has said that the investigation into Teghan's death is ongoing and that others might be charged in the case.