Shimika Hicks

Name: Shimika Hicks

Crime location: Benton Harbor, Michigan

Crime date: April 20, 1987

Murderer: Tommy Richards, 17

Is Life Without Parole For Juveniles Cruel And Unusual?

On April 20, 1987, 10-year-old Shimika Hicks of Benton Harbor, Michigan, was raped and murdered by 17-year-old Tommy Edward Richards. Richards, who was neighbors with Shimika, violently raped the girl and beat and suffocated her. He concealed her body in trash bags and dumped her in a vacant lot. Richards is currently incarcerated at the Lakeland Correctional Facility.

Tommy Edward Richards

Tommy Edward Richards (dob 3/25/1970), age 17, of Benton Harbor, became a suspect in the disappearance and murder of Shimika Hicks, age 10.

On April 21, 1987, Fiona Hicks contacted the Benton Harbor Police Department to report that her 10 year old daughter, Shimika Hicks, had been missing since the evening of April 20, 1987. The child was last seen at 764 East High Street in Benton Harbor, the residence of the child’s babysitter. A community wide search was initiated for the child. The body of Shimika Hicks was discovered on May 4, 1987, concealed inside of trash bags which had been disposed of in a vacant lot immediately adjacent to 764 East High.

An autopsy revealed that Shimika had been suffocated shortly after eating dinner on
April 20, 1987. The autopsy also revealed that Shimika’s front teeth were loose indicating that
she had been struck in the face. In addition, the autopsy revealed a tear in the child’s vaginal
wall indicating that she had been violently raped prior to being suffocated.

The investigation quickly led to Richards, Shimika’s neighbor. The investigation
revealed that Richards lured Shimika behind his residence located at 800 East High where he
brutally raped and killed her. Initially, Richards denied killing Shimika, but admitted to
discovering her body and then concealing it in the trash bags. Later, in a subsequent statement, Richards confessed that Shimika died while he was sexually assaulting her. In addition, Richards confessed that he wrapped her in plastic bags and disposed of her body after she died. A jury convicted Tommy Richards of 1st degree felony-murder, and was subsequently sentenced to life without parole.