Teen shared photos of drug addict mom was removed from care FIVE times

EXCLUSIVE: Family of Idaho teen who shared photos of their squalid, needle-littered home, reveal they were removed from their drug addict mom’s care FIVE times but say they’ve since forgiven her after she died choking on heroin baggie

  • Brynlee Richardson, now 17, of Layton, Utah, shared pictures of her grim childhood home that went viral and shocked the world last week 
  • The photos showed the reality of growing up with an addicted parent – her home filled with trash, drugs and broken glass
  • Now Brynlee and her siblings have exclusively spoken to DailyMail.com about their neglected childhood with their addict mother Kami  
  • Oldest daughter Jaralee, 23, said: ‘She was addicted to meth, heroin. She was addicted to alcohol. I would say she lived a majority of her life in her bed’
  • Davidlee, 25, remembers being chased down a hill by a drunk Kami, adding: ‘There would be rotten food, dishes were never done. I remember a lack of baths’
  • Dannika, 20, told how her mother went on the run with her and Brynlee in a bid to evade CPS after she took her eldest two children to school while drunk
  • Kami died in 2017 aged 46 after choking on a plastic heroin baggie at her aunt’s home in Birmingham, Alabama
  • All siblings say they have now forgiven their mother and although they hadn’t seen her for years when she died, say the experience has made them stronger

A home filled with trash, drugs and broken glass, a mother who spent days passed out in bed and 20 different schools before sixth grade: this is the reality of life growing up with an addicted parent.

Last week, Brynlee Richardson, now 17, of Layton, Utah, shared pictures of her deprived childhood that went viral and shocked the world.

Now the teenager and her siblings have exclusively spoken to DailyMail.com about their neglected childhood with their addict mother Kami.

Davidlee, now 25, of Boise, Idaho, remembers being chased down a hill by their inebriated parent and being called to help her up after she fell.

Oldest daughter Jaralee, 23, of Idaho Falls, Idaho, says she was forced to become a mom to her younger siblings – even opting for homeschooling so she could walk them to the school bus.

And Dannika, 20, told DailyMail.com how her mother went on the run with her and Brynlee in a bid to evade CPS after she took her eldest two children to school while drunk.

Brynlee and her siblings have exclusively spoken to DailyMail.com about their neglected childhood with their addict mother Kami. Pictured: Kami Richardson with Davidlee (far left) Brynlee Richardson (center), Jaralee Metcalf (second from right) and Dannika Richardson (far right) 

Brynlee and her other four siblings were eventually taken away from their mother and adopted by older half-siblings from their father Noel Lee’s first marriage. Pictured l-r: Dannika Richardson, 20; Davidlee Richardson, 25; Brynlee Richardson, 17; and Jaralee Metcalf, 23 

Brynlee shared more photos depicting her childhood living in a house with a carpet thick with dirt, cluttered living spaces, filthy bedding, broken glass in a pile of dirty toys, a messy bathroom floor with a knife on it and a kitchen with ‘more pills than food’. Pictured: One of Brynlee’s sisters climbing onto the filthy bed 

Brynlee Richardson, now 17, of Layton, Utah, shared pictures of her deprived childhood that went viral and shocked the world. She claims this image shows her at 18 months, lying on a filthy bed with needles on the windowsill 

Jaralee said: ‘She loved us and I know that but a lot of the time, she was just not there – there was a lot of her sleeping, I guess passed out.

‘She was addicted to meth, heroin. She was addicted to alcohol. Cannabis. Sugar. Caffeine. She ate a lot of junk food and drank a lot of sodas.

‘I would say she lived a majority of her life in her bed, just with those things and all her drugs with her too. We were important to her and we recognize that, but drugs came first.’

All four – and their younger half-brother AJ – were eventually taken away from their mother and adopted by older half-siblings from their father Noel Lee’s first marriage.

But the siblings say that it should not have taken so long for them to be found safe homes and said their mother was given too many chances to get them back – five in total.

Davidlee said: ‘I think two times. Two times should be the limit that is given. I understand a second chance but after a second chance…

‘I understand a DUI and you’re put into care for a month while they figure things out but after that, it’s too much.’

Kami, who died in 2017 aged 46 after choking on a plastic heroin baggie at her aunt’s home in Birmingham, Alabama, became addicted to alcohol early on, aged just 13.

By the age of 20, she was already using meth but managed to find her way to Idaho from her native Tennessee, where she met the Richardson’s father, Noel Lee.

At 51, he was a herbalist more than three decades her senior and first gave her a job as his assistant before making her his second wife.

Two years later, Davidlee was born and over the next six years, Kami gave birth to another three children: Jaralee, Dannika and Brynlee.


Kami, who died in 2017 aged 46 after choking on a plastic heroin baggie, became addicted to alcohol early on, aged 13. By the age of 20, she was already using meth but managed to find her way to Idaho from her native Tennessee, where she met the Richardson’s father, Noel Lee. Pictured: Kami (left) shortly before she died and Kami aged 17 (right)

The siblings say that their father Noel Lee, although he adored them, wasn’t really present. He died in 2006 when youngest daughter Brynlee was just four years old. Pictured l-r: Davidlee, Jaralee and Dannika

Jaralee said: ‘After my dad passed away, I opted to be homeschooled by a neighbor so I could walk them to and from the bus stop to make sure they got to school. My two-year-old brother was home at the time and I would come home during the school day to check on him, change his diaper and then leave again so he was home alone in the house basically because she was passed out.’ Pictured: Davidlee with Jaralee who is holding Dannika

The siblings say that Noel Lee, although he adored them, wasn’t really present having already raised nine children with his first wife Joyce Anne Larsen.

Brynlee said: ‘My father was 30 years older than my mother, he was just like an old guy. He was kind of past his father years.

‘He already had nine kids before. He was too old to be a dad at that point I guess.’

Although the siblings remember him making omelets for them on Saturday mornings, he died in 2006 when youngest daughter Brynlee was just four years old.

The children were left alone with Kami who had continued to take drugs throughout all of her pregnancies and spent most of her time passed out in bed.

Despite that, she managed to have another child – Asa Fleming – with a boyfriend. He has since been adopted and now lives in northern Idaho with his family.

Jaralee said: ‘The house was full of trash and knives and I would put my sisters to bed every night.

‘After my dad passed away, when we moved to Tennessee for a couple of years, I opted to be homeschooled by a neighbor so I could walk them to and from the bus stop to make sure they got to school.

‘My two-year-old brother was home at the time and I would come home during the school day to check on him, change his diaper and then leave again so he was home alone in the house basically because she was passed out.’

Davidlee said: ‘Early on, we lived off spaghetti O’s and fruit loops. Easy food that we could just put together for ourselves. She didn’t really cook – she was usually in bed.

‘There would be rotten food, the dishes were never done. We probably ate out of dirty bowls because you don’t think about doing the dishes when you’re a kid. You just see a bowl and use it.

‘I remember a lack of baths. We just didn’t take very many baths.’

Dannika added: ‘It was normal to us back then. It was so normal to us. There was glass on the front steps and I didn’t think anything different of it but I still have scars on my hands from it.

‘I didn’t think twice about it. We were talking about this not so long ago but how long did we wear those clothes we were in? How long were we in those dresses?’

Kami would move the family around the country, taking them from Tennessee to Washington and back to Idaho.

Although she had occasional sober periods, she never worked and the family lived largely on welfare and social security.

The children found themselves taken in and out of foster care, telling DailyMail.com  they would often arrive at a home with people they didn’t know with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing.

Kami, who later spent time in jail on drugs charges, would also move her family around motels in a bid to evade CPS and, in some cases, the cops.

By early 2010, Kami had begun setting up home with her family at a motel in Spokane, Washington, and took her two eldest children to Coeur D’Alene, Idaho, to check them out of the schools they were enrolled in there.

But she had been drinking that morning and when workers in the school office smelled alcohol, Jaralee and Davidlee were immediately taken away. 

The children found themselves taken in and out of foster care, telling DailyMail.com they would often arrive at a home with people they didn’t know with nothing more than the clothes they were wearing. Pictured: One of the closets piled high with discarded toys

Brynlee revealed her heroic brother Davidlee decided to take pictures of their situation, and then showed the shocking images to his teacher who reported the case to the CPS

A floor covered in toys, clothes and family photos with broken glass strewn around

Arrested and charged with DUI and endangerment of a minor, she tried to have her brother Joel, now 47, hide her younger three children. 

This time however, there was no going back. Bravely, Jaralee, then just 13, stood up in court and told the judge she no longer wished to live with her mother – telling him of the neglect they had suffered.

Jaralee said: ‘I asked the judge to clear the courtroom and I had a whole list of reasons why I didn’t want to live with my mom anymore, why she wasn’t fit to be a parent anymore and that was the last time we were taken away.’

The children were finally removed permanently and later adopted by their older half siblings: Jaralee by older brother John and his wife Jodi of Shelley, Idaho.

Davidlee went to live with half-brother Steve and his wife Denise in Boise, while Dannika and Brynlee both moved to Layton, Utah, and were adopted by half-brother Jared and his wife Carrie.

All say they have now forgiven their mother and, although they hadn’t seen her for nine years when she died, say the experience has made them stronger.

Davidlee said: ‘I look at it like it was a disease. It was a sickness. I know it was an addiction but it took over her life. She had schizophrenia but that was also because of the drugs.’

Both Jaralee and Davidlee are now married, and Jaralee is a mother to three-month-old Kent with her husband Kyle, 25.

All siblings say they have now forgiven their mother and, although they hadn’t seen her for nine years when she died, say the experience has made them stronger. Pictured l-r: Davidlee with his wife Ashleigh; Jaralee with her husband Kyle Metcalf, who is holding their son Kent; Asa Sieger; Dannika Richardson with fiancé Cade Herget; Brynlee Richardson and Asa Sieger

Both Jaralee and Davidlee are now married, and Jaralee (pictured) is a mother to three-month-old Kent with her husband Kyle, 25.

Davidlee, a disaster worker, is expecting a baby in October with his wife Ashleigh, 21, while Dannika is getting married to fiancé Cade Herget, 20, in November.

Only Brynlee is still at school but says she plans to become a lawyer or a social worker after leaving education.

Both Brynlee and Jaralee say they would like to adopt or foster children themselves one day and all say that more should be done to help drug addicted parents – including introducing required rehab and making the service free.

For children still struggling in homes with drug addicted parents, they have a message: the situation is not normal but you shouldn’t let it define you.

Davidlee said: ‘I would just want them to know that they can fight through and life is what you make it.

‘Your past is nothing to do with your future. You can make life how you want it to be and you just need to take control of your life. Don’t let your parents’ life be yours.’ 

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