Crime

Ohio Stepmom Arrested In 4-Year-Old's Death

| by Sheena Vasani
Austin CooperAustin Cooper

Officials are accusing an Ohio stepmother of dipping a 4-year-old boy into scalding water, which eventually led to his death March 16.

Anna Ritchie, 25, is accused of punishing the child, Austin Cooper, by dipping his legs into scalding water on March 15, Fox 19 reports.

The next morning, he could not breathe.

"I think my son's died,” Cooper’s father said during the 911 call. "He got into a hot bath last night with my wife ... so, he said he wanted to go lay down in bed.”

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Austin was sent to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Autopsy results later revealed the burns on Austin's leg from the bath caused his death. The Warren County Coroner has since ruled the death a homicide.

Ritchie has now been charged with child endangerment. She is currently in jail on a $350,000 bond.

The incident shocked even police.

"As a father and a grandfather, first what goes through my mind is that I can't imagine what a four-year-old could have done," Franklin Police Chief Russ Whitman said. "To deserve something like that, it affects us personally. It affects the officers."

The case is still under investigation, and Ritchie is scheduled to appear in court on March 18.

The is not the first case in which a child has died from burns and a parent was involved.

In November 2015, Racqual Thompson, 25, and her 21-year-old boyfriend Cornell Malone were arrested after their 19-month-old daughter, J'zyra, burned to death in an oven, Fox 26 reported at the time. 

After the couple had put J'zyra and her three older siblings to bed one night, they reportedly left to visit Malone’s brother. The couple was gone for about two hours, and during that time, their 3-year-old son put J'zyra in the oven.

"Mr. Malone stated that when they returned and went into the apartment, he could 'smell something burning,'” the court affidavit stated, according to Fox 26.

The other children were reportedly crying and pointing to the kitchen, where the oven had tipped over with J'zyra inside of it.

“[Malone] stated he uprighted the 'range' and the next thing he noticed was J'zyra was lying on the floor," the affidavit continued. "He stated that she was obviously burned and deceased."

Child Protection Services took custody of the other children, whose ages ranged from 3 to 5 years old.

Sources: Fox 19Fox 26 / Photo Credit: Franklin Police via WRTV, Facebook via Fox 19

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