BEL AIR, Md. (WJZ) — It’s one of the most notorious crimes ever in Harford County: a teenager kills his father, who he says severely abused him for years. Through the tragedy, one woman wouldn’t give up on him. Now, he can officially call her “mom.”
WJZ investigator Mike Hellgren with their story of love and redemption.
Eileen Siple became the teen’s confidant before she became his mother in an adoption Wednesday afternoon. It was the same courthouse where he pleaded guilty to manslaughter last year.
He couldn’t get his shackled arms around his new mom, but that didn’t matter. Robert Richardson, III, was still all smiles as he became Robert Siple, and so was Eileen Siple, who officially adopted him.
But she’d long considered him her son.
“He tried mother and mom and mommy and settled on mama. So he’s been calling me mama for a while,” she said. “And at some point, I said we ought to just make this official.”
She became his biggest supporter in the more than three years since Robert—then 16—shot his dad with a single bullet inside their home in Bel Air, where he says he lived for years in fear and was abused—particularly after his biological mother died of cancer when he turned ten.
Robert pleaded guilty and is now serving 18 years in prison. While some of his biological family members deny the abuse, Eileen Siple has no doubts and is working with a lawyer to get the conviction thrown out.
“I do not believe that any jury in the world would find him guilty,” said Siple. “He really believed that his father would kill him one day.”
She spoke to WJZ inside the room that will eventually be Roberts once he’s free.
“As crazy as this sounds, he tells me the last three years have been the best years of his life. Now figure that out, he’s been locked up, and this is the best he’s ever had? This is the safest he’s ever felt. That’s a scary thought,” said Siple.
They talk every other day.
“I actually tease him about it because he’s a mama’s boy,” said Siple.
She visits him. He writes her letters—like this one for Mother’s Day.
“Thank you for being my friend from the beginning, for taking me into my life, into my heart and for loving me when nobody else would,” she said. “You and I have the rest of our lives to be mother and son.”
Even prosecutors admitted people knew of problems inside the home, but never reported them.
Robert’s new mom says she hopes his story can help others.
“If he had known there were good people who would have stepped in and protected him, then he wouldn’t have chosen the route that he chose,” said Siple.
But on that dark journey, just when he thought he had nowhere to turn, he found the path to love.
“He is my blessing from God. God gave him to me. I absolutely believe that with all my heart,” said Siple.
“He’s family. And he’ll always be family, and he’ll always have a home and be so, so loved,” she continued. “It really was such a beautiful moment.”
Robert would like to do an interview, but corrections officials have not approved any requests.
He’s currently incarcerated in Hagerstown.