Friday, December 22, 2006

Anorexics shouldn't work at McDonalds

Daughter had spent months in foster care
Hospitalized in Louisville
Long, Paul A. Kentucky Post, Dec. 29, 2005, pg. K7.

For several weeks in the summer of 2003, Sunshine "Sunny" Richardson and her parents saw their family problems become state problems.

The young girl -- shot to death Tuesday morning, along with her boyfriend and her mother, apparently by her father -- spent several months in state foster care.

Her court record -- she was just 15 at the time -- is sealed because she was a juvenile. But Campbell Family Court Judge D. Michael "Mickey" Foellger agreed to discuss some of the problems in the case in hopes the public can better understand juvenile psychological problems.

Most of the time Sunny was in foster care, she was in the hospital -- more than six weeks at the Caritas Peace Center in Louisville -- for treatment.

"She had psychiatric issues," Foellger said. "She was anorexic. She weighed less than 100 pounds."

He said her father, Michael Richardson, struck him as odd. During one court appearance, Richardson clutched his chest and fell to the floor, Foellger said. The courtroom had to be cleared and a life squad called.

Foellger said he never did learn what exactly happened to Richardson.

He doesn't remember much about her mother, Joyce Richardson.

But Foellger does wonder, "What if?"

"Suffice to say, there were issues," he said."Any time a child has issues, it makes you wonder what are the source of the issues. Maybe there a complex web, and the child's issues could be related to the father's issues."

Foellger would not say how the case arrived in his courtroom. But he noted that it came under the heading of abuse, neglect or dependency, giving him jurisdiction over the family.

The Richardsons first came to his attention in May 2003. During the summer, the Cabinet for Families and Children sought and obtained a court order forcing Michael and Joyce Richardson to pay the state $300 per month in child support.

But by the end of September, the family was reunited. Foellger said reports from therapists and the cabinet were glowing. Sunny was gaining weight. Her parents "are appropriate and very insightful," he said, reading from one report."At the time of the discharge, the reports were surprisingly positive," Foellger said.

Sunny seemed to be doing well. A senior at Newport High School who was taking honors classes and looking forward to graduation, she planned to attend Northern Kentucky University and study psychology.

She worked at the McDonald's restaurant on Alexandria Pike in Newport, mostly staffing the drive-through windows.

Foellger said he heard no more about the family until Tuesday, when Michael Richardson was arrested and charged with three counts of murder.


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