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GASPARILLA MAGAZINE SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2016 30 The Richardson/Bryant Poisonings The victims of one of the saddest criminal cases in the history of Arcadia are laid to rest at Oak Ridge as well. The Richardson/Bryant family had seven children and all seven died from a poisoned lunch in 1967. On October 25, 1967 the children of James Joseph Richardson and his wife, Annie Mae, all took ill and died after being fed pesticide in a meal of beans, rice and hogshead cheese. While their babysitter was the one who fed them, it was their father who had prepared the meal for them, and he was charged and imprisoned for their murders. Others say it was their mother who prepared the food, but the father was immediately tried and convicted nonetheless. James Richardson stayed in jail for more than two decades, but was released in 1989 after Miami State Attorney Janet Reno proved reasonable doubt. Some claim on her deathbed the babysitter, Bessie Reese, professed to putting the poison in the children’s food. Two-year-old James Richardson Jr., three-year-old Diane Richardson, five-year-old Dorine Richardson, four-year-old Venessa Richardson, seven-year-old Alice Richardson, six-year-old Susie Mae Bryant and eight-year-old Betty Bryant all passed away between the evening hours of October 25 and the afternoon of October 26 in 1967. Beautiful babies whose murders should have been avenged. The tales of the Richardson/Bryant family run deep in Arcadia legend. Photos on this page were taken at Oak Ridge Cemetery, where the children are buried.


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