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Guilty Verdict in Cliff Death at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore

National Park News

We may never know the exact circumstances surrounding the death of Juanita Richardson, who fell to her death from a Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore cliff in June 2006. One thing, however, has now been firmly established: Juanita Richardson was murdered by her husband. 

Thomas David Richardson, 46, of McBain, Michigan, has been found guilty of causing his wife, to whom he was married for 23 years, to fall to her death on June 22, 2006. Testimony in his trial began March 3 and included about 140 witnesses.  The jury reached their verdict on April 16.

With most of the evidence against him circumstantial, it was difficult to speculate on the result of the long and grueling trial. The jury, however, was apparently solidly convinced of Thomas Richardson’s guilt, deliberating for only 12 hours over two days.  

Mrs. Richardson's death was the first fatal fall from a cliff and the first homicide in the 40 year history of the national lakeshore. 

“We would like to express our enormous appreciation to the Alger County Sheriff’s Department, the Michigan State Police, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and especially to the Alger County Prosecutor's Office, as well as to the National Park Rangers and Special Agents that were involved, for the outstanding work and collaboration that led to a thorough investigation of this tragic murder, and to the successful prosecution of Mr. Richardson,” said Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore Superintendent Jim Northup.  “We were very pleased with the verdict in this case, and feel that justice has been served.”


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