The parents of a cheerleader who buried her newborn baby in the family’s garden after giving birth in the bathroom have spoken out for the first time since she was acquitted of murder.
Kim and Scott Richardson, parents of Brooke Skylar Richardson, told US programme 48 Hours they had no idea their daughter had been pregnant and then secretly disposed of the body.
Their daughter was last week convicted of gross abuse of a corpse but was given a three-year probationary sentence following her trial in Lebanon, Ohio.
‘We missed everything’
The parents presented photos during the programme from when their daughter would have been heavily pregnant in which she barely displayed any physical signs. The then 18-year-old wore a bikini on a family holiday months prior to the birth, and her mum showed photos of Miss Richardson with her athletics team where “you can’t tell” she was pregnant.
“Here’s her track (team) photo. This was track season in April – and you can’t tell. Seriously, we missed everything,” Mrs Richardson said.
Days before giving birth, Miss Richardson also attended her ball wearing a form-fitting dress.
Conversations surrounding her weight were also out of the question, given she had endured long battles with various eating disorders.
The Richardsons said they sought help from doctors, therapists and nutritionists, and eventually their daughter was diagnosed with body dysmorphia, but ultimately this didn’t help and the family grew fearful of discussing her appearance.
The remains of Miss Richardson’s daughter, who she named Annabelle, were found in May 2017 – Richardson said the baby was stillborn but was accused of crushing the child to death and setting her on fire before burying the infant in a shallow grave.
In a surprise bargain deal during her trial, the state offered a plea deal that would have seen the charge of aggravated murder removed if she pleaded guilty to the rest of her charges.
Richardson refused the deal, which could have seen her spend 15 years behind bars.
“It was a Sunday morning and she woke up – and I can still see her sitting on the couch. And she goes, I’m not going to plea to something I didn’t do. And in my heart I got sick – but it has to be her decision. End of day, she has to live with this,” Mrs Richardson said.
How could it happen?
When she finally heard what had happened, Mrs Richardson said she “couldn’t feel my body”.
“I could not get up... How could that happen? I’ve seen her every day. I look at her. I talk to her. I hug her. I was a grandmother and I never had any of the benefits of it.”
The defense shows these pictures.— Chanley Shá Painter (@ChanleyCourtTV) 4 September 2019
Photo right from Feb 2017
Photo left from May 5th, 2017. #BrookeSkylarRichardson’s delivery date was May 7th, 2017.
Same dress in both photos-no alternations. #OHvRichardson#courttv pic.twitter.com/j2YuV193en
Mr Richardson said the actions of his daughter were hard to comprehend, but that in the given circumstance, it’s possible she thought she was doing the right thing.
According to a gynaecologist, the foetus was affected by intra-uterine growth restriction, a condition that restricts the child from growing at a normal rate, WCPO reported.
Given the symptoms associated, the specialist said it was possible the condition had caused Richardson’s baby to be stillborn.
Miss Richardson, who now goes by her middle name, Skylar, will complete an eating disorder treatment programme with the intention of beginning a university course next year.