About an hour before Kimberly Dianne Richardson was fatally shot Saturday night, she talked with a longtime friend and high school classmate, who said everything appeared to be fine between her friend and the man who has been charged with her death.
Katy Wester of Greenville was shopping at Triangle Town Center mall when she decided to stop by and visit with Richardson, who worked at Zales jewelry store.
“We talked for about 30 minutes,” Wester said. “I asked her how things were going, and she said they had talked about moving in together. ... She wanted to make sure everything was OK before she moved in with him.”
Richardson was six months pregnant. Wester said the child’s father was her boyfriend, Daniel Joseph Steele, who is now charged with first-degree murder.
Richardson’s baby, a girl she had already named Lacy Grey, survived the shooting.
Richardson got off work when the mall closed at 9 p.m. At 9:40 p.m., Richardson was behind Party City, a retail store in the 3600 block of Sumner Boulevard where she used her cellphone to dial 911 and ask a dispatcher for help.
“I been shot,” she told the dispatcher, in a weak, fading voice. “I can’t talk. He shot me.”
Emergency workers rushed Richardson to WakeMed in Raleigh, where she later died.
Her daughter remained hospitalized Monday at WakeMed. A hospital spokeswoman said she could not comment about the child’s condition because the family has requested privacy.
Investigators arrested Steele, 25, at his home on Snowcrest Lane later that night.
Wake County District Court Judge Vince Rozier on Monday told Steele he could be put to death if he is convicted of the first-degree murder.
Police have not disclosed a motive for the slaying. Wester said the couple had disagreements in the past, but that things appeared to be looking up for them.
“There was no cheating or nothing like that,” she said.
Wester said she met Steele only once. She said when Richardson became pregnant, Steele was “more nervous and scared” than the expectant mother.
“He appeared to be a very nice guy,” she said. “Very polite, well-groomed. I never would’ve thought he would’ve turned into a murderer.”
Wester described Richardson as “a God-loving woman who loved her family and her church.”
Richardson lived in Raleigh, but grew up in Youngsville, according to her Facebook page. In addition to working at Zales, her Facebook page also says that she was a freelance videographer and trained cosmetologist.
While waiting for her child to arrive, Richardson worked a second job at another Triangle Town Center store, Carolina Moon, a T-shirt outlet.
Richardson was a 2008 graduate of Franklin Academy. Another one of her classmates, Cara Troms, who now lives in Michigan, has established a fund-raiser with the online website GiveForward, Inc. to raise money for flowers from the Class of 2008 and to help Richardson’s family with funeral costs and Lacy’s medical bills.
By Monday evening, about 140 people had donated nearly $6,200 toward the fundraiser goal of $10,000.
“She was so uplifting and a real advocate for Christ throughout everything she did,” Troms wrote about Richardson in an email to The News & Observer. “She was so excited to be a mom and could not wait to meet her daughter.”