TW: eating disorder, murder
Hello everyone and welcome back to our True Crime Series! Today I bring you a new case - the case of Brooke Skylar Richardson. This case is pretty gruesome so I’ll try to tell it in a light way so it doesn’t get too dark, hope you enjoy!
Brooke Skylar Richardson, daughter of Scott and Kim Richardson and sister of Jackson Richardson, was born and raised in a small town called Carlisle, Ohio. This family seemed to have the perfect life: growing up the kids were super athletic and when they got to high school Jackson joined the football team and Skylar, name she would usually go by, was a cheerleader - a flyer to be exact. They were also great students and Skylar took cheer very seriously, while balancing it with being in the student council and being involved in as many extracurricular activities as possible.
However, being this perfect took a toll on her, as the pressure she, and her mother, put on herself got to her. She struggled with Body Dysmorphia and an eating disorder - Bulimia, and it was getting pretty severe, taking over her life. Her family would say it would go to the extent of her not even wanting to buy or eat gum, just because “it had too many calories”, and it started when she was about 12 years old.
Although her parents claim they always did everything they could to help her get better, when this case came to light, they were really criticized as people were questioning if they really tried and did enough, especially her mother, Kim, known in her town for being very vain and kind of obsessed with her body image.
Skylar, although known as a nice person, was very reserved and liked to keep things to herself. This means she didn’t usually share her life with other people, specially her parents - which is very important, as she didn’t feel comfortable talking and going to her parents for help.
In July, 2016, Skylar met a friend’s cousin, named Trey, and they started dating. The relationship, however, was not serious and it didn’t last long, as in the beginning of 2017 she had a new boyfriend, Brandon, a junior on her High School, who she really cared about. According to her family, this was the most serious relationship she had ever been on, her parents thought he was a really good influence on her. During this relationship she seemed her most happiest self and she actually started putting on weight, which made her parents feel like her ED was getting under control.
Spring, 2017, Skylar and her family went on a beach vacation and her parents thought everything was going great as she was on the path of being a healthier and happier person.
As the relationship with Brandon was getting more serious, her mother talked to Skylar about her getting on birth control, which she agreed and so they went to the OB/GYN on April 26th, 2017. Her mom waited on the waiting room and she went in alone, but when she came out, it was clear that she had been crying.
Kim got worried seeing her daughter cry, but Skylar assured her it was just because it was her first gynecologist appointment, that she was very nervous and it could be intimidating (what was actually a fair point, for a young girl) - but this was not the real motive of her meltdown.
When she was in the room, she was told she would be giving birth in about 10 weeks. Although this is what she was told, they did not have certainty as they couldn’t figure out exactly when the baby was conceived - and later it was found they were actually pretty off with the estimate, since she was actually already 36 weeks pregnant at the time of the appointment.
The doctor tried to help Skylar and give her some prenatal care and advice that she refused and instead asked for the birth control prescription. She told the doctor that the prescription was why she and her mom came to the appointment and that if she didn’t leave the room with it, it would bring some problems with her mother.
The doctor then made a decision - that later sparked some doubts and controversy - as this doctor decided to give her the prescription anyway, even though she was pregnant and if she took the pill, it couldn’t affect the baby. But as she was 18 at the time, they couldn’t tell her mom about the pregnancy if she didn’t want to (which she didn’t). So, they gave her the birth control as long as she agreed to go there again soon for some prenatal care.
Skylar continued her life and went to prom with Brandon in May, 2017 in a red skin tight dress she actually picked out in February - none of the adults, her friends, her boyfriend, or even her parents noticed her being 8 months pregnant. She would give birth just two days after prom:
A couple months after prom, on July 14th, 2017, Skylar’s family was surprised when police showed up at their door, saying Skylar wasn’t in trouble, but they needed to talk to her. Skylar and her parents went to the police department where she went in the room with the detectives to talk, while her parents waited outside.
In the room, police told Skylar that the OB/GYN called them saying that she was pregnant and there were rumors going around that she already had the baby and buried it in her backyard. So, when Skylar went to the interrogation room, it didn’t take long until she started telling everyone what went down.
You can see the first interrogation HERE
According to Skylar, two months after the first appointment, on May 7th, 2017, she went back to the doctor’s office and told them she gave birth to a baby girl, but it was born a stillborn. So that night she gave birth to a baby girl in her bathroom, but that when she came, she wasn’t breathing and had no heartbeat, that she tried everything that she could to save the baby but nothing worked so she went outside to her backyard, dug a small grave and buried her newborn stillborn baby, all by herself, without telling anyone what just happened. As the interrogation went on, she kept saying that she didn’t kill the baby, that it was a stillborn - which actually is a huge part of the case!
After the interrogation, the police told her parents that Skylar not only had been pregnant and had a baby, but she buried their grandchild in their backyard. As expected with this news, they were floored. They went in to see their daughter, gave her a hug and Skylar instantly started crying, calling her mom “mommy”, apologizing, and confessing to all of it.
She told them she named the baby Annabelle, and the dad was not Brandon, but the guy she was seeing before him, Trey. While they were talking to the detectives, the officers went to their house to look for the baby and it didn’t take them long to locate the grave, find the baby and bring him to a pathologist to take a look.
Skylar and her parents went back to their house and 6 days later, police called Kim and Scott for Skylar to come back in for more questioning. When they got there, police said that the pathologist made a report that it looked like the baby had been burned, charred. At first she told them she had no idea what that was, that she didn’t burn the baby, she didn’t know what they were talking about. However, after being pushed in the interrogation, she changed her story, saying she “may have burned the baby’s legs a little bit with a lighter”, that she “tried to cremate the baby just a little” (her own words).
This went even further when she started changing her story the more time she spent in the room, saying that actually the baby was alive when she was born, that she heard some gurgling. This made detectives arrest her in the spot with charges of reckless homicide, after hearing her say that the baby was alive and that she tried to burn it.
She was put on bail of 50 thousand dollars, so she was able to go home before the trial started. Two weeks later, the case was presented to a grand jury and she was given new charges. Skylar was now charged with Aggravated Murder - that in Ohio carries life sentence -, involuntary manslaughter, endangering children, and abuse of corpse. Although her parents said that this was absurd and that there was no way she would harm the baby and that the baby was a stillborn, with the new charges she was arrested again and taken back to jail - although this didn’t do much, as she was once again bailed out.
The media didn’t take long to spread this case, which enraged a lot of people, to the point of protesting in front of the courthouse asking for the harshest penalty for Skylar, standing in front of their house and harassing her and her family,…
At this point there’s a huge turn of events as a new pathologist report comes out and says that the first one was actually incorrect and that there was no burning on the baby, which becomes a big part of Skylar’s defense - saying that Skylar was made to give a false confession since when she first came in, she promised she didn’t burn the baby - but after time in there she started doubting herself. Actually, it were the detectives that said “maybe you tried to cremate it” and she actually ended up saying “yes I did, with a lighter” - and the gurgle part was actually suggested by the detectives as well.
This brings up to question the authenticity of the entire interrogation since the part of the lighter were completely false, as the new report guaranteed, so how could anyone be certain if she was telling the truth or not? - regardless of these claims, the prosecution sticks to the initial story.
During this time, Skylar was placed on house arrest. In July, 2019 the state contacted Skylar’s attorneys to make a deal, saying they would take off the aggravated murder if she pled guilty to the rest of the charges. However she did not take the plea saying in her own words “I will not plead guilty to something I didn’t commit”.
The trial started on September 3rd, 2019 and the biggest challenge for the prosecution was that they had no proofs that the baby was alive when it was born.
They used as proofs the fact that Skylar said the baby gurgled a little bit when it came and that the OB/GYN appointment was 11 days before she gave birth - and there, the baby’s heartbeat was strong and healthy, so it made no sense she went from a healthy baby to stillborn in just 11 days. Not only that, but it was confirmed that Skylar did end up taking those birth control pills just 10 days before the baby was born, so who knows what that did to her body and her baby. Besides all of this, she never told anyone - not her parents or even the father of the baby - about the pregnancy, hiding it from everyone and searching on google “how to get rid of a baby”, she tried to get an abortion, but she was too far gone with her pregnancy to do that, so prosecution argued that she did everything she could to sabotage the pregnancy.
The prosecution went even further to say that Skylar’s mom was very obsessed with vanity, putting her two kids in great amounts of pressure and actually knew about the pregnancy - which is actually possible as the doctor’s office accidentally emailed the pregnancy results to Skylar’s mom instead of Skylar and when she found out she texted her daughter asking what was up with the email. Skylar tried to convince her it wasn’t true, to which her mother started to respond her with texts like “this better not be true, or your life will be over”. Actually, going back to the interrogation videos, we can actually spot a moment when her mother says “Yeah, we had a perfect life” which helped the narrative of her knowing and not wanting anyone else to know, or for her daughter to give birth to her baby, as it would ruin their reputation.
There were also some text messages being brought up around the time of prom, where Skylar texted her mom saying: “I’m just in freakout mode, I wanna look amazing again more than anything, I have being like this more than anything!” (Keep in mind prom happened and 2 days later she gave birth).
Being “like this”? If her mother didn’t know, wouldn’t she be concerned or, at least, question what she meant by that? There was also another text message right after she gave birth saying “I’m so excited, can’t wait for dinner tonight to wear something cute. Yaay my belly is back.”, so why didn’t her mom question anything? Especially since Skylar had an history with body dysmorphia and bulimia, if she didn’t know anything was wrong, she would at least try to comfort her? There was also another text where Skylar told her she dropped 20 pounds (around 9kgs) to which her mother just responded with “I could cry. You’re my hero”. - there was also a rumor going around that her mother was helping her drop weight with laxatives (there goes their narrative of helping their daughter with the ED).
Another text popped up from the day after she gave birth, but to her boyfriend, where Skylar said “Last night felt like the worst ever, but I feel so much better. I’m happy.” So, although the boyfriend claimed he didn’t know - did he though?
Although the prosecution made some good points, the defense argued that the baby was a stillborn, using Skylar’s description of it being white, small and very pale was just like the description on a stillborn and the fact that, because her ED was on its peak, she only put 15 pounds (around 7kg) during her pregnancy, which is unhealthy that she put so few weight - which can compromise the nutrients going into the baby and resulting in its death. Plus, they argued that Skylar never got to cut the umbilical cord, which meant it could be detached, forming a stillbirth (the baby didn’t get the nutrients in order to survive).
On September 12th, 2019 the jury found Skylar Richardson not guilty of aggravated murder, involuntary manslaughter and endangering children. However, because she buried the baby, she was convicted of gross abuse of a corpse, which usually carries about one year in prison, but she was sentenced, in the next day, with 3 years of probation.
She later went to Community College where she studied Law and, actually, her defense firm gave her an internship there, where they claim everyone loves her. To this day, the backyard at the Richardson’s house has a little angel in memory of Annabelle.
Her probation was ended in 2020, nearly 2 years early and the only comment Skylar made as she got free was that she only wants to "be a normal person again".
What did you think about the case? Do you think she actually told the truth in the interrogation? Or did the detectives mess up? Do you think her mother knew? And if yes, did she help her with all this mess? Do you think 3 years of probation was fair? Let me know in the comments what you think and what you would like to see next!! Hope you have a lovely day!