Monday, August 26, 2013

Mom discusses events leading to 15-year-old daughter's 2009 murder by custodial dad (Dyersburg, Tennessee)

We've reported on this case before. After all these years, the mother has won a $300,000 judgement against the Tennessee Department of Children's Servcies. The killer dad was CHRIS MILBURN.

A case where the mother encouraged her daughter to have a relationship with the father (contrary to fathers rights propaganda), and got totally burned. Dad ended up seizing full custody, shutting off all contact with the mother, and sexually and physically abusing the girl. He then killed her after she attempted to report the abuse and went into foster care.

Mother speaks about life events leading up to daughter's 2009 murder

Saturday, August 24, 2013
Dyersburg State Gazette

The mother of a murdered child was recently awarded a $300,000 judgment against the state of Tennessee in a wrongful-death suit. She hopes the judgment brings about a positive change in the state's troubled Department of Children's Services. She also wants the memory of her daughter to be one of strength and determination and an inspiration to others that are too afraid to speak up.

In the summer of 2009, Jessica Readen's 15-year-old daughter, whose identity cannot be released, but is known as SNM in the legal case, was living in Dyersburg, Tenn. with her father Chris Milburn. The child reported as being physically and sexually abused by her father to the Tennessee Department of Children's Services in July 2009. DCS removed the teen from her father's custody and placed her in the home of neighbors, Todd and Susan Randolph, who lived just two doors down from Milburn on Blake Cove in Dyersburg. On Aug. 2, 2009, Milburn walked over to the Randolphs' house and shot his daughter and both of the Randolphs and then committed suicide in a nearby field. Susan Randolph, who was shot multiple times, was the only survivor.

Readen, who was living in Reedsport, Ore. at the time of the incident, says no matter how much money the state awards her it cannot bring her daughter back, but at least the judgment shows the state was at fault. Attorneys Dean Dedmon and Lewis Jenkins Jr. of Wilkerson Gauldin Hayes & Jenkins in Dyersburg represented Readen in the wrongful-death suit against the state. Susan Randolph was also part of the same suit. On April 19 -- 20, a trial was held in Dyersburg to determine if the state was at fault for the murders. In November of 2012, Tennessee Claims Commissioner Nancy C. Miller-Herron handed down a judgment to Readen in the amount of $300,000. Dyersburg resident Susan Randolph was also awarded $275,000 from injuries she received from the incident and the estate of her late husband received $300,000.

To hear Readen recall the events leading up to her daughter's death, a person can tell she deeply loved her daughter and regrets ever letting her daughter go with the man who denied he was her father for the first half of her life.

Readen and Milburn were never married. She says that when she told Milburn she was pregnant with his child he denied being the father. Readen had the child in 1994 and the couple separated.

"The day I got her home from the hospital, (Milburn) came over to my house and he held her for about five minutes," said Readen. "He looked at her face and looked at me and he said 'is she really mine?' and I said 'yeah' and he said 'I've got to go,' and he handed her back to me and I didn't see him again (until eight years later)."

Milburn reportedly moved from the area while Readen stayed and married another man. The couple then began raising SNM as their own.

"She was being raised as my husband's daughter," said Readen.

Readen says one day, out of the blue, she received a phone call from Milburn who reportedly said he had grown up and had two daughters, he wanted SNM to meet them and he also wanted to get to know his daughter. Readen was reluctant, but through Milburn's persistence she gave in and allowed him to come to Oregon to visit their daughter. He flew out multiple times to visit his daughter and the two grew closer. During this time, Milburn gained Readen's trust and looked as if he was sincere in rebuilding a relationship with his daughter.

"He put up a real good front he was going to be a dad to her," said Readen.

When SNM was around 9 years old, Readen allowed her daughter to travel with Milburn to Dyersburg and be introduced to her extended family. That was the last time she saw her daughter alive and when the nightmare began.

"She was supposed to go there for three weeks and (Milburn) just basically stole her from me," said Readen. "(SNM) called me and said she wanted (to extend her visit) to go to a concert and two weeks later I got orders in the mail to come to Dyersburg and fight for custody of her."

Milburn, who had a family of his own in Dyersburg, had filed custody papers and decided SNM would live with him and not return her to Oregon.

At the time, Readen had just gotten divorced from her husband and was raising three children. She had been a housewife and mother and was not working at the time. She said she found herself in a situation where she felt helpless and didn't have the resources to travel across the country and regain custody of her child.

"I was devastated when he took her from me," said Readen. "I had been raising her."

Readen's attorney Dean Dedmon says there have been misconceptions in the community about Readen's involvement in her daughter's life. He says Milburn was to blame for taking the child back to Tennessee with him knowing Readen couldn't afford to get to Dyersburg to try to get her back.

"If anybody gets anything out of this, I want people to know Jessica didn't abandon her child," said Dedmon. "Far from it, she did everything she could do to get the father to let her to come back into her life. (Milburn) fooled everyone and essentially developed an entire protocol to do nothing, but eliminate this woman from this child's life. And that's the hell she has to live with on a daily basis. She did everything she could do under the circumstance. She just didn't have the resources."

Dedmon added that while SNM was in Tennessee, Readen developed significant health issues, which debilitated her and put further strain on her finances.

Over the next several years, Readen says Milburn systematically began to turn their daughter against her. She said Milburn regulated SNM's contact with her and he would sit next to SNM whenever they spoke and told her what to say, including calling Milburn's wife "mom".

"(Milburn) was telling me over periods of time that (SNM) had forgotten about me and she didn't want to talk to me, and that she had a mother," said Readen. "The whole time I was (telling him) you need to let her talk for herself and you need to let me talk to her."

Readen says it wasn't until SNM was in junior high school that she was able to use a friend's cell phone to call Readen and the two of them speak freely. It was during these conversations that Readen says she was able to reconnect with her daughter. Readen was also able to secretly send her a cell phone she could use to call her without fear of Milburn interfering.