Local News

Slain Smithfield girl died from head injury

Posted November 24, 2010 5:24 p.m. EST

— A 4-year-old Smithfield girl who died in July suffered bleeding in her skull from blunt force head injuries, according to a report released by the North Carolina Medical Examiner on Wednesday. 

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.

The medical examiner's report said the girl had suffered extensive abuse, including beatings.

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.

Skiba's mother, Helen Reyes, 26, of 5255 Passenger Place in Raleigh, is charged with negligent child abuse in connection with her 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.

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 has said. So, she was aware of the situation in which she was leaving her daughter, he said.

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' is out of jail on bond. Richardson remains in jail under a $1 million bond.