Local News

Judge declines to increase bond for mother of slain 4-year-old

Posted July 30, 2010 10:50 a.m. EDT
Updated July 30, 2010 7:01 p.m. EDT

— A judge on Friday refused to increase the bond for a woman facing a neglect charge in connection with the death of her 4-year-old daughter.

Helen Reyes, 26, of 5255 Passenger Place in Raleigh, was charged Thursday with negligent child abuse, and she was released on a $50,000 bond.

Prosecutors tried Friday to have her bond raised to $250,000, alleging that she is a flight risk and that she knew her daughter was being abused. In a brief court hearing, District Judge Resson Faircloth kept her bond at $50,000, and he ordered her not to leave North Carolina.

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

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, 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."

Reyes' next court hearing is scheduled for Aug.12.