In an interview last month, Joni Richards said she met Doney eight years ago. They dated off and on before moving in together.
She said he worked at a car wash. When he drank, she said, he became violent.
Richards refused to discuss the violence in their relationship.
She told police Doney hated Victoria, in part because she wasn't his child. Doney had a child of his own, a son born in 1999.
In November 2003, after drinking whiskey, Doney grabbed Richards by the neck, according to her statement to police. He threatened to kill Victoria, she said. Richards told police that Doney was jealous of the attention she gave Victoria, and that he told her, "Don't let her be too close to you."
On Christmas Day, the couple argued. According to court documents, Richards said Doney became jealous when Richards' friends telephoned her.
Joni's sister, Kathy Richards, said Doney had prevented her from seeing Victoria.
"I didn't know it was this bad," Kathy said earlier this month. "This was totally unexpected."
Around 9:30 a.m., Richards gave Victoria a bath, wrapped her in a blanket and placed her on the living room floor so she could watch television, court records show. When Doney awoke around 10:30 a.m., the couple again began arguing.
Richards went outside and yelled for help. Doney stuck his head out of the apartment window and said, "I'm going to kill your daughter," according to court records.
From the street, Richards heard "what sounded like a tornado." As she raced upstairs, Doney ran from the apartment.
Richards found Victoria and began screaming.
In the apartment, police and medics found Victoria dressed in a pink and red-striped short sleeve shirt but nothing else.
Dark purple bruises covered the left side of her head, near her ear. She bled from the ear and nose. Her eyes were open, but rolled back in her head.
Around 1 p.m., at a local hospital, Victoria stopped breathing. She died shortly thereafter.
Police found Robert Doney at the home of a relative, hiding in a crawl space in the basement. Self-inflicted knife wounds crisscrossed his neck and chest, according to court records.
He pleaded not guilty to the charge of first-degree murder. The prosecutor's office has hinted it may seek the death penalty.
Behind the reports
Of course, the official reports miss some details. They don't say that Victoria loved to feed the ducks in Riverfront Park. Or that she liked pickles. Or that she was shy.
Relatives say Victoria and Joni were inseparable.
"All she ever talked about was her baby," said Crystal Bordeaux, Joni's aunt. "She was the most important thing in her life."
On the day after CPS finished Victoria Ramon's fatality review, the Spokane region put in place a new recommendation for social workers. When the state is unable to locate Native American families, staff are encouraged to contact Indian child welfare workers.
Last week, Joni Richards shared her memories of her daughter in a letter. Victoria liked "Sesame Street" and her toy cash register and the red wagon slide at Riverfront Park.
"Victoria always said, `Love you, miss you,"' her mother wrote. "She was a very smart baby."
She was 2 years old, Joni wrote, and she loved everyone. • Benjamin Shors can be reached at
(509) 459-5484 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.