“It was dark and I didn’t see her”: Suspects tried to wipe blood from their vehicle when they hit the road

STEUBEN COUNTY, Ind. (WANE) — A woman charged with the murder of a 13-year-old who died in a hit-and-run accident in Steuben County last weekend attempted to dislodge blood and knock out dents that appeared on her Jeep Liberty stayed behind to hide their involvement, according to newly released court documents.

Hope Richmond, 45, of Montpelier, Ohio, is accused of hitting two boys just before 9 p.m. Saturday while driving a silver Jeep Liberty eastbound on the 1500 block of County Road 275 North in rural Pleasant Township.

She is then charged with leaving the scene of the crime, Steuben Superior Court documents say.

One of the boys, 12-year-old Ryly Cummings, was taken to hospital with a head injury that required staples and has since been discharged.

The other boy, 13-year-old Wayden Bennett from rural Angola, was taken to a Fort Wayne hospital where he died days later.

Cummings later told detectives that he and Bennett went against traffic after playing baseball at nearby Lake James Christian Camp. As they neared the entrance to the Mulligan’s Restaurant & Pub car park, they crossed the street and walked side by side.

Cummings told police he was on the grass while Bennett walked the white line. The next thing he knew, Cummings said in court documents, he was bleeding in a ditch by the side of the road and people were standing around him.

At the scene, investigators found a smudge of paint in the middle of the roadway and debris that court documents said looked like parts of a vehicle.

A man at an auto repair shop later told investigators that the parts appeared to belong to a side mirror assembly and found that the paint chip matched a schematic used on the silver Jeep Liberty model from 2008 to 2012, sources in court documents.

Hope Richmond

According to court documents, tips began flooding the Steuben County Sheriff’s Department shortly after the crash. Detectives and officers checked at least one other damaged vehicle someone saw in a driveway, but an anonymous “good citizen” pointed them to a Fremont home with a silver Jeep Liberty parked in front of it.

The jeep in the house had damage to the front, hood and passenger side mirror, court documents said.

Richmond came out of the house to speak to a detective who got there on Monday. First, she said she hit a deer about a week earlier, according to court documents. However, when he looked at the damage to the vehicle, Richmond’s demeanor changed.

“Hope had an obvious change in breathing and posture,” one detective wrote in court filings. “Hope lowered his head and now looked at the floor. Detective Trippe again asked about the damage. Hope says, ‘It was dark and I didn’t see her.’”

During an interview at the Steuben County Sheriff’s Department, Richmond told detectives she was the person who hit the two boys, court documents say.

She had just bought food at a Mexican restaurant and then stumbled upon what she thought was a trash can. That’s why she didn’t quit, Richmond said in court filings. Richmond later said in court documents she heard the news about the boys, that it was in the area she was in, and knew she had hit them.

She told detectives in those court documents, which she was trying to hide, that she was the one who hit the boys, trying to remove dents from the jeep and wiping blood from the vehicle.

Richmond also told detectives she tried to remove the broken side mirror.

Detectives found towels Richmond said she cleaned up the Jeep at the home where the vehicle had been parked, court documents say.

Richmond told detectives she was not operating under the influence of alcohol or drugs at the time of the crash, court documents say. Detectives also found no evidence that she was on the phone or driving while distracted.

When asked why she didn’t report the crash after realizing she had hit the boys, Richmond said in court documents that she “feared what would happen to her.”

Richmond faces a Level 4 felony for leaving the scene resulting in death or catastrophic injury, a Level 6 felony for leaving the scene with moderate or serious injury, and a Level 6 felony for obstructing justice.

She is being held without bond at Steuben County Jail.

https://www.wane.com/top-stories/it-was-dark-and-i-did-not-see-them-suspect-in-hit-and-run-tried-to-wipe-blood-from-her-vehicle/ “It was dark and I didn’t see her”: Suspects tried to wipe blood from their vehicle when they hit the road

Dais Johnston

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