Courts & Crime

NC man arrested for allegedly torturing a 4-year-old girl

RALEIGH, NC — A Johnston County man has been arrested for allegedly torturing a 4-year-old girl who had been left in his care, leaving her with severe head trauma, evidence of sexual abuse and bites, cuts, bruises and abrasions that covered her body, Sheriff Steve Bizzell said Friday evening.

The girl was so badly hurt that she had to be airlifted to UNC Hospitals, where she was in critical condition Friday night.

"This is one of the worst cases of child abuse that I have ever seen and that we have ever investigated," Bizzell said.

The extent of the girl's injuries left him and other seasoned investigators shaken, he said. Although he hadn't, others on his staff had examined the child.

"I saw the pictures, and I've got to tell you, that was about all I could take," Bizzell said.

Jonathan Douglas Richardson, 21, of 750 Old Sanders Road, Smithfield, was charged with felony child abuse with severe bodily injury, Bizzell said.

Richardson lives in a barn behind the home of his grandparents. A few weeks ago, his girlfriend of about six months moved into the barn with him, bringing her 4-year-old daughter, Bizzell said.

The girl's mother traveled to New Mexico on July 6 for Army Reserves training, leaving her daughter with Richardson.

The abuse was discovered Friday afternoon when Richardson took the girl to Johnston Memorial Hospital.

He told medical staff there that she had fallen out of a bed.

Investigators and social workers contacted the girl's mother, who immediately began traveling back to North Carolina and was expected back early today.

Richardson was being held Friday night in Johnston County's jail, his bond set at $1 million.

Bizzell said he was telling people to pray for the little girl.

"Things like this just aren't supposed to happen," he said.