PORTLAND – Darien Richardson’s parents stepped to the lectern at police headquarters Thursday and pleaded for help in solving the mystery of their daughter’s death.

Richardson, a 25-year-old graduate of South Portland High School and Bowdoin College in Brunswick, died from a gunshot wound she suffered during a break-in at her home Jan. 8.

“We do not want any other person to experience such a violent invasion in their home and we do not want any family to have to go through this senseless nightmare,” said her mother, Judy Richardson, pausing occasionally to compose herself as she addressed the media. “We hope for justice for Darien and we want these violent criminals off our streets.”

Darien Richardson was asleep in her bedroom when masked intruders burst into her Portland apartment and started shooting.

Richardson was shot in the upper right thigh and the hand. Her friend Cory Girard, 22, who was asleep in the room with her, was shot in the arm.

Richardson spent two days in intensive care, and 18 days in the hospital.

“We spent every day by her side and watched her suffer physically and emotionally,” her mother said. In addition to treating her thigh injury, surgeons worked to reconstruct her thumb, which had been shot off.

She was medically cleared to leave the hospital and moved in with her parents, leaving the apartment in the Woodfords neighborhood where she had lived for two years.

On Feb. 24, Richardson flew to Miami to help a friend who was moving there. Three days later, she collapsed while she was out at a club. She died later at Mount Sinai Hospital.

A medical examiner in Miami-Dade County determined that she was killed by a blood clot that was the result of the gunshot wound almost two months earlier.

Police said they don’t know the motive for the attack and have identified no solid suspects, although they have recovered physical evidence from the home and interviewed witnesses.

Police Chief James Craig said the other victim of the shooting, Girard, has been interviewed, and investigators believe he may have information that could help the case.

Girard, a Portland resident, attends college outside the city, Craig said. Police would not say where because Girard might be in danger. He doesn’t have a criminal record.

There was no evidence that anything was stolen from the house, Craig said. Police said they believe the house was targeted and the attackers apparently knew its layout.

Police held Thursday’s news conference for two reasons: They hope to stimulate leads in the case, and they want people to understand that the shooting wasn’t connected to any illegal behavior by Richardson. Craig said there was no suggestion that Richardson was involved with drugs.

“There is no indication she had any enemies,” Craig said. “She was loved by many.”

Judy Richardson described her daughter as an intelligent, independent and vibrant person with ambitious dreams and the ability to accomplish them.

“She sought out and found only the good in all people she met,” Richardson said. To her side, Darien’s sister Sarena clutched a portrait of her sister, which showed a broad smile on her face framed by dark, curly hair.

Her mother said, “We are asking, please, anyone with information regarding this violent crime contact the police and help solve this matter so that the person or persons involved may take responsibility and accept the consequences of their actions.” 

Staff Writer David Hench can be contacted at 791-6327 or at:

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