Mother's anguish, son's death

Blame: Kimberly Howard says inaction by Juvenile Services officials contributed to the loss of her child.

September 18, 2004|By Ryan Davis | Ryan Davis,SUN STAFF

The mother of a slain 15-year-old says she pleaded with juvenile services officials last month to have her son arrested because he was a probation violator and a runaway. She feared for his safety.

"I wanted him to be locked down and rehabilitated," Kimberly Howard of the 1000 block of E. Belvedere Ave. said yesterday. "They said, `We'll give you a warrant,' and they didn't do it."

That warrant wasn't issued until Monday, police said - over a month after Howard said she went to juvenile officials. The order was issued the same day her son, Christopher Richardson, was shot in the head and killed in the 2800 block of W. North Ave., according to police.

The state Department of Juvenile Services was unable to determine yesterday when it requested an order from a judge to have Christopher picked up, said agency spokeswoman LaWanda Edwards. She said officials are trying to determine when the agency approached a judge.

"She's assuming that DJS took no action," Edwards said of Howard's contention, "when I'm pretty confident - even though I can't identify the exact date - I'm pretty confident we did what we were supposed to do."

On Thursday, a 14-year-old Calverton Middle School pupil, Kevin Scott Jr. of the 1900 block of N. Dukeland St. in West Baltimore, was arrested near his home and charged in Richardson's death, police said.

Scott is a cousin of Christopher's girlfriend, the girl's mother said. Detectives have described the crime as an apparent robbery involving people who might have been familiar with each other.

Christopher and seven of his siblings lived with their mother, who said she recently married. But Christopher, who was described by Howard as learning-disabled and emotionally troubled, had not been staying home much recently.

He had run away during the summer - a violation of his juvenile probation following an arrest for drug dealing, his mother said. His juvenile record is confidential and sealed, officials said.

Difficulties worsen

Howard said her son's emotional difficulties worsened in 2000 with the deaths of his aunt and great-grandmother, with whom he shared a bond and a birthday. "Chris just went crazy," she said.

Through last school year, he attended the Forbush School, a facility for emotionally disturbed children at Sheppard and Enoch Pratt Hospital in Towson, his mother said. While there, he enjoyed woodworking and helped build a rabbit pen, she said.

Christopher looked older than his 15 years, his mother said, but acted younger. For a while, he had been dating a girl from West Baltimore and, according to Howard, the two began traveling this summer with friends to Western Maryland.

Searching for help

Howard said she drove to Cumberland last month in search of help getting her son arrested.

When he was in Baltimore during the summer, he rarely came home, she said. If he did, he arrived in the evening while she was working at her job as a custodian for Baltimore County schools.

Calls to police

Howard said that after her son left, she repeatedly phoned and visited the Northern District police station on West Cold Spring Lane, pleading with officers to arrest her son. As recently as last weekend, she said, she gave police the license plate number of a truck Christopher was riding in, and told them where he was staying.

Each time, police told her there was no warrant to arrest her son, the mother said, even though she had phoned Christopher's probation officer in July and visited the same official last month.

"They didn't do anything," Howard said of juvenile services officials. "Then when he dies, they say, `You've got my sympathy.'"

Sun staff writer Richard Irwin contributed to this article.

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