An 18-year old recent high school graduate is accused of killing her newborn baby and burying the child in the backyard of her parent’s home in Ohio, authorities say.
Brooke “Skylar” Richardson of Carlisle, Ohio, was arrested July 20 and charged in the death of her newborn baby after the child’s remains were found buried in the backyard of the home where she was living.
Richardson made her first court appearance July 21 for her arraignment and was charged with one count of reckless homicide. She was then indicted August 4 on five charges, including aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter, child endangering, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse, WLWT-TV reports.
“The general allegations against her are that sometime during the night of May 6 to May 7, 2017, that she did give birth to a newborn infant and that she caused the death of that infant. She subsequently burned the infant and buried the infant in the backyard of her own residence,” Warren County prosecutor David Fornshell told the news station.
“She’s taking it in a way you would expect,” her attorney Charles M. Rittgers told reporters after her arraignment. “It’s a shock to her, it’s a tragic situation.”
Richardson was back in court August 7, and pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released from custody on $50,000 bond.
“I can tell you that Brooke Skylar Richardson did not kill her baby,” Rittgers said to WLWT News.
Here’s what you need to know about Richardson and the case:
1. The Remains of Richardson’s Baby Were Found in a Shallow Grave Police Got a Tip From a Doctor’s Office
Investigators caught wind of the infant’s body via a tip from a doctor’s office, according to police. It’s not clear exactly what the tip was or how they found out about it.
But police acted on the information given to them and responded to the home where Richardson had been living in Carlisle. After investigating the scene, they found the child’s remains buried in a shallow grave in the backyard of the home.
Evidence suggested the baby could have been a stillborn, but further investigation showed that the baby was alive, Warren County Prosecutor David P. Fornshell wrote in court documents.
They returned to the home the next day to arrest Richardson, and a criminal complaint filed July 21 provided more information about the investigation.
According to The Dayton Daily News, police accuse Richardson of “recklessly causing the death of another, or the unlawful termination of another’s pregnancy” sometime around May 7. The baby is believed to have buried in the ground behind the home for around 10-to-12 weeks.
“To be frank with you, I’m not sure we ever will provide to you the exact medical cause of death, and the reason for that is because the child was, after death, burned and subsequently buried, and there was significant decomposition to the body,” Fornshell told WLWT-TV.
The prosecutor said he believes Richardson and her mother were obsessed with appearances and that played a role in the alleged murder.
“I think a lot of this, from my perspective, from viewing the evidence, came down to a situation that if members of the community were to find out that the Richardson girl was pregnant and perhaps gave birth and even if after giving birth, gave that child up for adoption, that was something that was not going to be accepted in that household, at least by Skylar and her mother,” Fornshell told the news station.
2. Investigators Returned to the Home to Obtain Additional Evidence
After compiling the initial evidence to find probable cause in the case against Richardson, police were seen back at the home July 20 to retrieve additional soil samples and evidence as the investigation continues, Doyle Burke of the Warren County Coroner’s Office told the newspaper.
“We have learned more,” Burke said to WDTN-TV. “That’s why we’re back out here, but we still have not learned everything we need to know.”
Additional digging occurred around a firepit in the backyard, Burke said, adding that forensic anthropologists from the Miami Valley Regional Crime Laboratory were still analyzing the human remains.
3. Richardson’s Bail Was Set at $50,000 & She Will Be on House Arrest if Released
Richardson made her first appearance in court July 21 when she was arraigned before Judge Rupert Ruppert. She was brought into Franklin Municipal Court during the afternoon alongside her parents, who were holding her hand on their way in.
According to the Dayton Daily News report, Richardson’s arraignment was quick, and she was placed on $15,000 bond with an August 1 preliminary court hearing date.
After the schedule was set, Richardson was led out of the courtroom by Rittgers, who had already entered a not guilty plea on her behalf.
She was taken back into custody on August 4 after she was indicted on murder charges. She was being held at the Warren County Jail without bail until her court appearance on August 7, where a judge set her bail at $50,000 and ordered she be on house arrest when released.
She has pleaded not guilty.
4. Richardson, Who Graduated in May, Was a Cheerleader in High School
Rittgers said that Richardson was a model student in high school and had good grades. She attended Carlisle High School where she was on the cheerleading team and had just graduated this past May.
“I can tell you that Skylar was a very good student,” he said to Fox 45 News. ”She didn’t drink. She wasn’t a partier or a smoker. By all measures a very good girl who helped children… She’s by all means a very good person.”
He said that one of her favorite things to do was to help kids. Richardson once worked with children with disabilities at a cheer camp and also worked at a YMCA with children.
“She helped young children also with disabilities and a pee wee cheer camp,” Rittgers said. “She’s by all means a very good person.”
5. Richardson Was Planning on Going to College in the Fall at the University of Cincinnati
Rittgers didn’t want to comment much more on the case, however he said that Richardson had plans to attend college at the University of Cincinnati this upcoming fall.
“I’m going to refrain from giving any more comments until I learn more about the case,” Rittgers told the Dayton Daily News.
Carlisle High School officials haven’t yet commented on the case.