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Three-year-old's babysitter charged with lying to cops

Mechanicsville, MD - The temperature on the night of April 21 was only six degrees above freezing when a passerby travelling on Point Lookout Road in the area of Birch Manor Road, came upon a small child, unattended, walking down the side of Point Lookout Road. 

According to Deputy Edwards, the responding officer, it was dark, and the roadway is unlighted and heavily traveled. When he arrived on the scene, he observed a small child, who was 3, wearing a pajama nightgown, with a zipped up jacket, with the hood over her head, a gray knit hat and sneakers. Edwards said he placed the palm of his hand on the "extremely cold exposed legs" to possibly help him determine how long the child could have been outside unattended. In addition, the victim apparently had a cough which sounded like thick, heavy mucus. 

Contact was made with Melissa Irene Richards on the scene. Richards advised she was looking for the victim because she had received a telephone call from Sarah Williams advising the victim was missing from her (Williams') residence. Richards informed Deputy Edwards that Williams had care, custody and control of the 3-year-old child at the time the child went missing from the residence. The phone call took place approximately five minutes before the victim had been located walking in the roadway. 

Edwards questioned Richards about who the child's parents were. Initially, Richards told the deputy that her brother, Donald Richards, was the child's father and that the child's mother was deceased. Richards advised that her brother was out of state for a period of time. Edwards requested a phone number and address for Williams, which could not be provided by Richards at that time. It was also stated to the deputy that Williams was her brother's girlfriend. 

Edwards advised Richards to take the child to her residence once the child was back in custody of Richards. The deputy again questioned her about where Williams could be located, and Richards responded that she wasn't sure, but that it was a house further up on Birch Manor Road. When asked for a phone number for the father, Williams stated she could not provide him with a number due to "not knowing where her cell phone was located at the time." 

The deputy was able to make contact with Donald Richards who advised that the child was not his, but that his sister was babysitting the victim at her residence when she went missing and was located on the roadway. 

With this new information from Donald Richards, Deputy Edwards, again approached Melissa Richards about whose care the child was in. It was then that Richards admitted to providing false information in regards to whose care the child was in at the time she went missing to avoid "getting in trouble." 

Deputy Edwards paced the distance from where the child was located to the residence to see how far the child had walked. It was determined that the distance from Richards' residence to Point Lookout Road was 0.13 miles. 

On May 5, contact was made with the victim's parents who advised that Richards had care, custody and control of the victim at the Richards' residence the night of the incident. They also advised they had not been made aware of this incident by Richards prior to the deputy contacting them. 

At this time Richards is being charged with two counts of false statement to an officer and obstructing and hindering an investigation. Additional charges are pending a review of the State's Attorney's Office. Richards has a preliminary hearing scheduled for July 20, 2018.

Contact Suzzi Copeland at S.copeland@thebaynet.com

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