PORTLAND — More than two years after Darien Richardson was shot in her bedroom by an unknown intruder, family members and friends don’t want people to forget the lively, accomplished young woman who had a beautiful smile and moved with a dancer’s grace.
On Monday, Judi and Wayne Richardson of South Portland offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and indictment of the person or persons responsible for their daughter’s death in February 2010.
Richardson, 25, was shot in her apartment on Rackleff Street on Jan. 8, 2010. She initially recovered but died suddenly on Feb. 28, while visiting a friend in Miami, from a blood clot caused by her injuries.
“We now hope, with an added incentive of this reward, that the people who have knowledge of what happened will now step up and do the right thing,” Judi Richardson said at an afternoon news conference at the police station.
Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch admitted Monday that the case has gone cold and detectives have run out of leads.
However, Malloch said, evidence and information gathered during the investigation indicate that the shooting was related to illegal trafficking of OxyContin, a prescription narcotic pain reliever.
Malloch wouldn’t expand on the illegal drug angle, except to say that police don’t believe Darien Richardson, a Bowdoin College graduate who worked as an Aetna Insurance specialist, was involved in selling or using OxyContin.
“There’s nothing to suggest that she knew that anything was going on or that her life was in danger,” Malloch said.
When the shooting occurred at 1:30 a.m., Darien Richardson was asleep in her apartment in the quiet, residential Woodfords neighborhood, Malloch said. Also in the apartment were her boyfriend, Cory Girard, 22, who stayed with her occasionally, and her two roommates.
Richardson, who was shot in the thigh and hand, spent 20 days in the hospital before she was released and moved in with her parents. Girard, who was asleep with her, was shot in the arm and survived.
Malloch wouldn’t say whether anyone else staying at the apartment was involved in buying or selling OxyContin. He said Girard’s “level of cooperation” has varied during the investigation, but police are no longer in regular contact with him.
In 2011, authorities determined that the gun used to shoot Richardson also was used in the fatal shooting of Serge Mulongo on Feb. 10, 2010.
Daudoit Butsitsi of Portland was sentenced in December to 38 years in prison for gunning down Mulongo in the entryway of their apartment building on Park Avenue.
During Butsitsi’s trial, Deputy Attorney General William Stokes said that the semiautomatic .45-caliber pistol used to kill Mulongo had been linked to Richardson’s case. He would not provide further details.
Butsitsi said he got the gun from a friend’s house on the day of the Mulongo shooting, but he wouldn’t identify the friend. Butsitsi said he was afraid of Mulongo so he brought the gun to protect himself as he gathered his belongings from their apartment.
Malloch said police have traced the gun to a Maine man who purchased the pistol in 2008 at a retail outlet, then sold it in late 2008 or 2009 at a gun show somewhere in Maine.
The man told police that he didn’t know who bought the gun and he kept no record of the sale, which isn’t required by law, Malloch said.
“Guns are a valuable commodity in the illegal drug trade and are often sold between criminals,” Malloch said. “People know where that gun came from. We need those people to come forward.”
Judi and Wayne Richardson described the heartache and frustration of not knowing who killed their daughter.
They cling to the memories of her studying ballet, setting swimming records for South Portland High School and receiving the NAACP Excellence in Education Award in college. Now, each birthday, wedding and holiday emphasizes the void in their family.
“We miss Darien every day, in every way,” Judi Richardson said. “We deserve to have answers and justice for Darien.”
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at: