Robert Richardson III - Victim of long term child abuse
On Jan 9, 2012, Bob shot his father, Robert Richardson, Jr. (58). He was apprehended by police the following day. Bob was driven to desperation by years of abuse and neglect at the hands of his father, some of which may have been witnessed by friends and family. Bob was often seen with bruises, or in ill-fitting, worn, dirty clothing. He rarely attended school. The abuse was pervasive throughout Bob's 16 years in the house of his father; Bob lived in terror, in what can best be described as a war zone.
Bob's birth mother passed away when he was 10. She fought cancer for 3 months, before passing, and she died at home. The abuse in the home escalated after her death, as she had done her best to protect him, while she was alive.
Bob is known to be a great friend; he is the person that other kids went to when they needed advice or had a problem. He continues to do this, even from his prison cell. We know he is not evil or malicious, and would not willfully harm anyone, if there were a way to avoid it. We know that Bob tried to escape his abuser by running away, but he was found and returned to the abusive situation each time. We know that the police were called to the home often, and we know that some of those calls were placed by neighbors who were concerned about Bob's safety. We know that there was one early report to Child Protective Services, but it was determined that there was no need for further action, and we know that Bob suffered greatly, following that incident.
Bob's story, however, is one of survival. He survived the long illness and eventual death of his mother when he was only 10 years old, as well as the subsequent loss of much of his support system, as those supports were systematically cut off from the young boy. He survived years of abuse and horror, while living with a man who was known to abuse drugs and alcohol. He survived 10 months in isolation (24 hour lockdown) and more than a year of segregation (23 hour lockdown) within an adult jail setting, denied any form of counseling, education, or rehabilitation, all before he had been to trial. And somehow, through all of this, he remains positive, although it is difficult to imagine how that could be.
This is also a story of a broken "justice" system - a system in which the State's attorney would publicly speak out against this child, before knowing the circumstances surrounding the boy or the reasons behind his actions. This system would then ignore its own failings in its inability to help this child before that fateful day, and then charge him with first degree murder, and toss him into the adult criminal system, hoping to throw him away for the rest of his life. And this system would then place him into an adult jail, pending trial, as if he had already been tried and convicted. And then, in order to ensure his safety within that facility, the system would put him in isolation and then segregation for close to 2 years before he even went to trial, torturous conditions which are well know to cause significant psychological distress.
Rally For Bob
To be clear, isolation in the adult facility meant that Bob sat alone, in a jail cell with no mail, visits, phone calls, books, music, television, or even bedding. He wore a paper hospital gown, and shivered in the cold. He endured this for 10 months, before being transferred to segregation, which is 23-hour lockdown, although he was allowed visits, mail, phone calls, and books during that time. And all of this was inflicted on a boy who was already suffering from the effects of his tortured childhood.
Following a plea deal, during which Bob pleaded guilty to manslaughter and a gun charge, the "justice" system continued its abuse of Bob by ignoring the court recommendation that Bob serve his sentence in the Youthful Offender program at Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Maryland. In this program, Bob would finally be able to receive the counseling, education, and rehabilitation that he so desperately wanted and deserved. Instead, the DOC sent Bob to an adult prison in Hagerstown, MD, where he was placed into general population. This was a temporary move, and after much outrage from his supporters, Bob was eventually moved to Patuxent, however it is impossible to understand why he was sent to Hagerstown, at all. This seems to be one more act of cruelty towards Bob, who has grown to be a young man in MD jails and prisons.
During the plea hearing, the prosecutor acknowledged that Bob suffers from child abuse syndrome, post traumatic stress disorder, and severe depression. She conceded that he was in fear for his life, at the time of the killing, and she spoke sternly to family members that she suspected had been aware of the abuse and neglect. Bob accepted the plea deal of 18 years, largely because he could no longer tolerate the isolation he had survived for 2 years in the county jail.
But finally, this is a story about love: Bob's unending capacity for love has amazed so many of us. In spite of the hand that has been dealt to him, he continues to love his friends and family fiercely and without regret. He has somehow remained positive throughout his ordeal, although it's difficult to understand how that could be possible. But this is also a story of how strangers, from all over the world and from all walks of life, have come together to love a boy that they have never met - a boy that has not known this type of unconditional love for a very long time, if ever.
Bob will survive, because he is a survivor, but with the help of friends, family, and advocates, Bob will eventually be released and learn to thrive. Bob is very grateful for the love and support of so many people, most of whom he has never met.
Bob's post conviction relief is being handled by attorneys Byron Warnken and Matt McKenzie. Money for this effort was donated by his generous supporters. The attorneys are hoping for exoneration, which would effectively eliminate the plea deal, and could result in a new trial, although it is possible that his ordeal could end with the exoneration.
Eileen and Bob at adoption hearing
I (Eileen Siple) have been asked how I became involved with Bob. My daughter, Hannah, actually started the ball rolling, by creating this facebook page. So many good people became involved, through this page, that she asked for my help. Initially, I just helped her with this page. I did not know Bob before this happened. I wish I had, because I surely would have tried to help him. But once I became aware of his situation, I began writing to him. When he was finally allowed to receive mail, he wrote me back, and that started our long correspondence history. When he was allowed to make phone calls, he called our home, at first to thank us for the support, but later just to talk. Some days, we would talk for hours. The letters became the place to discuss things that were too hard to say aloud. I learned more and more about Bob, and what he had survived, and my heart broke for him. So the truth is that, in the beginning, I felt sorry for him and wanted to help.
After a while, it was apparent that there was more to the relationship than a lady who felt sorry for an abused kid in jail. He experimented with different titles to use for me, since "Eileen" or "Miss Eileen" no longer seemed adequate. He tried "Aunt" for a while, and then asked if he could call me "mother" and then "mom". He finally settled on "Momma", and it just felt right. I found myself acting more and more like a mom, and feeling more and more as if he were my son.
Shortly after Bob's plea deal, we began to discuss the idea of adoption - jokingly at first, and then as a serious possibility. I eventually spoke with an attorney, Brian Young of Bel Air. Side note - if anyone is in need of a great and honest attorney, he is highly recommended. Mr. Young completed the paperwork, filed it with the courts, and we were finally given a hearing date. On May 26, 2015, I legally adopted Bob, and he became a member of my family.
We are all so grateful to the incredible support that we have received over the past 3-1/2 years. I continue to visit Bob in Hagerstown, twice every week, and although the drive is long, the pay off is worth it. He is one of the most unselfish, caring people I have ever had the privilege to know, and I am so proud to call him my son, even if it's not official yet. We are praying that he will be exonerated, and that he will be allowed to come home and live the life that he deserves to live.
If you want to send Bob a letter, you can send it to this address: Robert Richardson 421744/3760167 18800 Roxbury Rd Hagerstown, MD 21746
If you want to send him money for his commissary, you can send it to: Robert Richardson 421744/3760167 18800 Roxbury Rd Hagerstown, MD 21746 (make sure the money order is made out to Robert Richardson, 421744/3760167)
And finally, you can contribute to his college fund, but please send him (or me) a note that you have done so, or he will not know. Donations can be sent by check or money order to: Adams State University Office of Extended Studies 208 Edgemont Blvd., Suite 3000 Alamosa, CO 81101 (Make sure you put Robert Richardson, 900534810 in the memo line.)
Thank you so much for sharing Bob's story. He is a remarkable kid, and we just want him to come home. He doesn't deserve prison, and he should not be punished for surviving. One day, Bob will accomplish amazing things. Let's get him home, so he can get started.
Bob and I met a few years before this happened. He had always watched out for and still tries. We write letters and talk all the time. Bob will always be apart of my heart and he knows he will forever be welcomed in my family. Thank you to anyone who listens and sends love to him. His heart is big and he could always use some companion from others (heart) ~Rebecca Coffey