Cold-case reward of $10K offered in 2010 death of South Portland woman
PORTLAND — Certain there are people who know who shot and killed their daughter 2 1/2 years ago, the parents of a South Portland woman Monday offered a $10,000 reward for the arrest and indictment of anyone responsible for the homicide.
Wayne and Judi Richardson said the money was raised by relatives and friends of Darien Richardson, who was 25 when she died Feb. 28, 2010. They announced the reward at a press conference at Portland Police Department headquarters.
Richardson, a 2002 South Portland High School graduate and 2006 graduate of Bowdoin College in Brunswick, died from complications resulting from gunshot wounds she received Jan. 8, 2010.
Richardson was at her Rackleff Street home in the Deering area of Portland with her boyfriend, Cory Girard, when a masked intruder broke in around 1:30 a.m. and shot the couple. Richardson was shot through her left thumb and in the thigh. She was hospitalized for about a three weeks at Maine Medical Center while she recovered from the wounds. Girard was shot in the arm.
Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch said police are "fairly certain" the shootings were tied to illegal trafficking of Oxycontin, although it's believed Richardson had no involvement or knowledge of the drug-related activity.
"This was not a case of mistaken identity, there were things going on she wasn't aware of," Malloch said.
After her release from the hospital, Richardson went to Miami to help a friend move and enjoy a long weekend and change of scenery. After several days, she collapsed and was taken to Mount Sinai Hospital in Miami, where she died.
Her death was ruled a homicide, caused by a blood clot that formed after the gunshot would to her thigh, according to the Miami-Dade County Medical Examiner.
Malloch said police have interviewed Girard several times since the shooting, but are no longer in regular contact with him.
"This case is a cold case," Malloch said. "We have run out of leads and things to do."
The Richardsons and police said they hope the reward will bring more information, especially because the weapon used in the the homicide was linked to a second Portland shooting about a month later.
In that crime, Daudoit Butsitsi was convicted in Cumberland County Superior Court of the murder of Serge Mulongo. Butsitsi is now serving a 38-year sentence, and Malloch said Butsitsi has refused to provide information about how he obtained the gun.
Malloch said the gun was legally purchased, then resold at a private show to an unknown buyer who was not required to undergo a background check.
"We have traced the gun as far as humanly possible," he said.
The Richardsons have set up a website in memory of their daughter and as a way to help others who have lost family members to violence.
The couple said they had no knowledge her daughter was in any kind of dangerous situation and would have stepped in to help if they were aware of any problems.
When she moved to the home in what Malloch called a "quiet, low-crime residential neighborhood," Wendy Richardson said the couple was pleased she had found a safe place to live.
Darien Richardson had aspirations to be a teacher and had worked as an intern at Waynflete School. She was employed by Aetna Insurance at the time of her death, but unable to work because of her injuries.
Judi Richardson said her daughter was athletic and loved to dance.
"She was good, kind and loving. She was eager to see the rainbow on a stormy day. We feel the void she has left," she said.
Anyone with information about the shootings is asked to call Portland police detectives at 874-8533 or log on to www.portland-police.com.
Police and the Richardsons said Portland is small enough to allow information about the shootings to circulate.
"We know somebody is out there who has the answers," Wayne Richardson said.
David Harry can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @DavidHarry8.
Updated with additional information on July 24, 2012.