Teen ex-cheerleader charged with murder after burned baby found in backyard

LEBANON, OH (AP/WNCN) — An 18-year-old woman whose newborn infant’s remains were found buried outside her home in southwest Ohio has been indicted on charges of aggravated murder and other offenses, a prosecutor said Friday.

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Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said at a news conference that the grand jury Friday also indicted Brooke Skylar Richardson on charges of involuntary manslaughter, child endangering, tampering with evidence and gross abuse of a corpse in the May death.

Fornshell said Friday the infant’s remains found in woods behind a Carlisle home were burned and buried after Richardson gave birth to the baby between May 6 and May 7.

Fornshell said this case is still being investigated but said a grand jury had sufficient evidence to indict Richardson in the death of her baby and that she had no intention of keeping the infant.

Fornshell said the cause of death hasn’t been determined and may never be known, due to burning and decomposition. He said Richardson, who goes by Skylar, gave birth to a full-term baby, who was born alive. The prosecutor alleged Richardson “purposely caused” the death of the infant, who was then burned and buried.

The infant is believed to have been born about 38 to 40 weeks in the pregnancy, sometime between May 6 and May 7, he said. Authorities believe the baby was alive only a few hours. They are working to determine the infant’s sex and the father’s identity.

 

A message seeking comment on behalf of Richardson, who was arrested Friday, was left at the office of her attorney, Charles Rittgers.

Fornshell said Richardson delivered her baby only days after attending her senior prom. He said the charred, decomposed remains were found July 14 buried outside Richardson’s family’s home in Carlisle, about 40 miles north of Cincinnati.

The former high school cheerleader, whose attorney said she worked with children at a local YMCA and was college bound for the University of Cincinnati in the fall, did not make any statements in court or after.

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“I can tell you Skylar was a very good student. She just graduated from high school a few months ago she has plans to start college very soon. She didn’t drink. She wasn’t a partier or smoker. By all measures a very good girl who helped actual children, children with disabilities,” Defense attorney Charlie Rittgers said. He went on to say, “She’s taking it the way you would expect. It’s a shock to her and a tragic situation.”

The prosecutor wouldn’t speculate on a specific motive, but said he thinks evidence supports that Richardson was “pretty obsessed with external appearances and how she appeared to the outside world.”

Investigators believe a “significant number of people in her life” likely had a strong suspicion she was pregnant before the birth, Fornshell said.

He said no one else has been charged in the case, but the investigation was continuing.

— WDTN-TV contributed to this report