Ladson boy was mothers second infant to die in past two years
For a 21-year-old Ladson mother now in jail, a 2-month-old boy this week became her second infant to suffer an unexpected and, so far, unexplained death in the past two years, officials confirmed today.
On June 18, 2010, Angel Richardson’s 4-month-old daughter was found dead in the family’s house at 4537 Outwood St., according to Charleston County Coroner Rae Wooten.
Experts were unable to determine Mariah Benjamin’s cause or manner of death, a rarity in such cases, Wooten said.
Considering only the initial results of an autopsy, the same is the case for Richardson’s infant son, Kayden Melvin, who died Wednesday. Today’s autopsy didn’t immediately determine how Kayden died, but Wooten said further testing could reveal the cause. The boy’s body showed no obvious signs of trauma or abuse, the coroner said.
Richardson and her boyfriend, 28-year-old Todd Stephen Melvin, were arrested today on a charge of unlawful conduct toward a child. The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office has not yet explained the reason for the charge.
“Obviously, we’re concerned about having two infants die in the same environment with the same folks,” she said. “There are many things we need to look at now.”
Investigators will consider all possibilities that could have led to the boy’s death, including hereditary factors, Wooten said. Experts will wait for test results before making a ruling.
“Babies very rarely die of something that we aren’t able to determine,” Wooten said. “In (the 2010) case, we didn’t know, but we were not willing to call it natural.”
Richardson and Melvin will face a magistrate during a bail hearing at 7 tonight, sheriff’s Capt. Eric Watson said.
In South Carolina, Melvin has been arrested seven times on misdemeanor charges, including marijuana possession, but he has no convictions, according to the State Law Enforcement Division.
Richardson does not have a criminal history, according to state records. Her 2009 arrest does not appear on a SLED background check.
In this week’s incident, Kayden was not responding Wednesday morning when Richardson and Melvin brought him to Nason Medical Center, according to sheriff’s reports. He was later taken to Trident Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The Sheriff’s Office was called to the hospital around 10:30 a.m.
In addition to the two who have died, Richardson has come under fire for an incident involving another infant.
In April 2009, her 6-week-old baby was burned with water inside the Woodside Manor home. Richardson’s boyfriend at the time, Alexander Perry, claimed the baby suffered the burns during a bath in lukewarm water.
During that investigation, deputies found marijuana plants growing inside the house.
Perry, Richardson and her father, Brian Allen Richardson, all faced charges in connection with the marijuana, but the case was dropped.
Perry is imprisoned today on an unrelated weapons conviction.
The Post and Courier’s attempts to contact the family at the home have been unsuccessful. A telephone line at the residence was disconnected today.
Since late 2005, deputies have responded to the Outwood Street house 38 times, but Wednesday’s death was the only visit in the past two years, according to incident records obtained today.
The calls included eight disturbances, the April 2009 child abuse and drug reports, four animal complaints and June 2010 death.
Karen Maxwell, a neighbor of Richardson’s at the time of that first death, recalled that the girl appeared to be healthy. Richardson had left to run an errand when the father found their daughter cold and unresponsive in her crib, according to Maxwell.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.