What happened to Baby Willow? In February 2016, Susan Richardson reportedly gave birth. Richardson, a drug addict with documented mental health issues, is said to have walked the same path almost daily. Her friend reportedly told authorities that Richardson would leave for her morning trip to 7-Eleven before making her way to the local drug house across the street. After handling her business there, Richardson would walk home, saving time by cutting through the Willow Bend Apartments in Orlando, Florida. Things took a turn on February 16, 2016, when residents of the complex found afterbirth in the parking lot, and when police arrived at the scene, they followed the trail of blood right to Richardson’s front door.
However, the mother did not have the baby nor was there any evidence that Richardson was preparing for the child’s arrival. There was reportedly more blood located in her bedroom and in the laundry room, but there weren’t any cribs, pampers, formula, toys, or anything else to suggest that Richardson planned on keeping or taking care of her baby.
Immediately after locating the full-term placenta in the apartment complex parking lot, investigators’ top priority was to find the newborn. It was determined that Richardson gave birth to a girl who was later dubbed Baby Willow, but finding the child proved to be difficult. Richardson told authorities that she left the child on the doorstep of one of Willow Bend’s residents but authorities were unable to locate the newborn.
On the day she gave birth, sometime around noon, someone called the Orlando Fire Department to Richardson’s home. They were alerted that a woman had suffered a possible miscarriage and Richardson was rushed to a nearby hospital. There, she told doctors that she was approximately three to four months pregnant and miscarried. She did not mention giving birth and hours after being released from the hospital, a Willow Bend resident found the afterbirth that linked Richardson to the case.
A woman who claimed to be one of Richardson’s close friends would later tell police that Richardson gave the child away. The alleged witness wanted to remain anonymous because she was reportedly concerned about her safety, but she told authorities that Baby Willow was in the care of someone near the crack house by the 7-Eleven Richardson visited each morning. The person who allegedly had the baby was said to be fearful of coming forward because they did not want to get into trouble with the police. The friend also claimed that while pregnant, Richardson revealed she was going to give her baby away, but she never named the individual.
Meanwhile, authorities searched tirelessly for Baby Willow. They drained a nearby pond and treaded through swamp waters hoping to find a trace of the child. Over 550 hours were spent searching through sewage and dumpsters, and Richardson soon stopped cooperating with investigators. She was arrested for child neglect and when her boyfriend, Johnnie Bryant, went to visit or would call her in jail, their conversations were monitored. Unfortunately for investigators, nothing came up that helped with the search for Baby Willow. There was no evidence that the newborn was dead, but authorities believe that the child is no longer alive.
While in custody, Richardson reportedly did not seem concerned about her child, either. Police reported that Richardson has a lengthy criminal record that included charges related to assault and battery.
“She told us she dropped the baby off at someone’s apartment at the doorstep,” Orlando Police Sgt. Wanda Ford said. “She’s not telling us the entire story, but we don’t know. We don’t know if she did drop the baby off at someone’s apartment… Our biggest concern is that the baby is alive and that it’s safe.”
Richardson pleaded no contest to the third-degree felony charges of neglect of a child and unlawful desertion of a child. Each of those charges could have landed her in prison for up to 10 years each, but a judge sentenced Susan Richardson to 51 weeks in jail. After serving eight months behind bars, she was released and placed on probation for four years.
Yet, not long after her release, Richardson was arrested on a domestic battery charge. Her boyfriend told police that she kicked him after he told her not to smoke crack while on probation for child neglect. She reportedly fled the scene and went to her boyfriend’s mother’s residence. When arrested, Richardson told authorities that she only kicked her boyfriend after he struck her in the face. The two reportedly lived together and share children. It is assumed he was the father of Baby Willow, but that has not been confirmed.
Months later, in January 2017, it was reported that the Florida Department of Children and Families learned that Richardson violated her probation when she allegedly visited her other children unsupervised. During their investigation, it was also discovered that Richardson was pregnant once again. Her boyfriend, Bryant, was contacted by reporters but he would not reveal if he was the father of the unborn child. The status of that child’s whereabouts has not been shared publicly.
At the time of her disappearance, Baby Willow was just a newborn who was hours old and between six to 10 pounds. She had black/dark brown hair and brown eyes. Baby Willow, also referred to as Baby Richardson, was last seen on February 15, 2016, and authorities claim Richardson may have been walking around with the baby between 10:00 a.m. to noon that day.
Anyone with information about this case is urged to contact the Orlando Police at 407-246-2470 or their local authorities. The agency case number is 2016-066472
Please share this story about Baby Willow to help bring resolution to this case. She is our sister and her life matters.
Bay News 9 1 & 2
Mariah Edwards, 17: Suspected To Be Victim Of Serial Killer
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