By Lavern Nissley
(Photo: Cara Owsley/The Enquirer)
Ronda and I have followed the heartbreaking story of Brooke Skylar Richardson, the young teen from Warren County who secretly gave birth to her baby in the middle of the night, then allegedly killed it (she claims it was stillborn) and buried the newborn in the back yard. Last week she was acquitted on 3 counts of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and child endangering. She was convicted of abuse of a corpse and sentenced to three years of community control and seven days in jail.
Did any good come out of this horrendous story? Or was it pretty much all terrible?
After Brooke initially spoke with the police when a doctor reported her story two months following the event, she was allowed some time with her parents.
As I watched the very disturbing exchange on video, I could see that the parents knew nothing about what their daughter had gone through on or around May 7, 2017. They could hardly believe what she had done, and I felt myself in their shoes for a bit.
How absolutely awful to learn that your daughter had hidden both the birth and discarding of your granddaughter, whom she had named Annabelle. Brooke apparently suffered from a dependent personality disorder and didn't want to displease her parents with news of a pregnancy. Not sure how she thought this would be a better option, but it was clear she didn't want them to find out about the pregnancy.
We were greatly impressed with the father, Scott Richardson, who assured his daughter that, "Yes, we love you. But we also need you to tell the truth, regardless of the outcome." This was at the front end of their own nightmare, after trust in her truthfulness had significantly eroded. The unveiling of the heart-wrenching facts between daughter and parents are captured in unforgiving police interrogation room videos.
Is there anything that would cause you as a parent to decrease or pull back your love for your children? Before we answer, it's probably good to consider the kind of scenario Scott and Kim Richardson found themselves in with Brooke, "daddy's little girl". This is beyond coming in after curfew or experiencing a minor fender bender.
Do our children feel safe with us to reveal anything? Even shocking, disturbing information? No easy answers here. Not sure any of us are prepared for revelations that have the kind of repercussions that this family experienced.
But our hats off to Scott Richardson who seemed to balance love for his daughter with truth and responsibility to do the right thing. He apparently has a foundation of integrity and stability in his life that got him through the whole ordeal with grace.
Hug your children today. You never know what you may be going through with them tomorrow.
Lavern & Ronda Nissley are co-directors of Encompass. Married since 1978, both enjoy coffee, riding their tandem bicycle and working together to build strong relationships.