A woman in Franklin, Ohio, was arrested and charged with scalding her 4-year-old stepson in hot water for 25 minutes, ultimately killing him.
On March 16, 25-year-old Anna Ritchie reportedly held her stepson, Austin Cooper, down in a tub of scalding hot water for 25 minutes as punishment for not liking to take baths.
"[She said] she observed Austin screaming and telling her the water was hot," Detective Jeff Stewart testified in a court hearing. When Ritchie removed Austin from the bath, she told detectives she found pieces of his skin in the water.
She then attempted to put ointment on his legs and cover them with socks "because she didn’t want Austin’s father to see the burns and she didn’t want to get blood on the sheets," Stewart said, the Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News reported.
Stewart told the court that Austin's father got a phone call about the incident after it occurred.
"She advised Austin's father that she had burned him and however advised Austin's father not to check on him 'cause she did not want him waking up and have to deal with him after that. So his father did not wake him up," he said, according to WKEF.
By the time medical staff arrived at the home to help the next day, the boy was dead.
Warren County Coroner's Investigator Doyle Burke ruled Austin's death a homicide, although an exact cause of death is as yet undetermined.
"The fact is this kid would be alive if it wasn’t for the injuries," Burke said. He told the Journal-News that Austin suffered third-degree burns from his knees to his toes.
"His death stems from the injuries," he confirmed.
At the probable cause hearing for Ritchie's case on March 25, Austin's biological mother's family watched in tears.
"She should never be able to go out and enjoy anything because my nephew never got the chance to meet his first best friend or ride a bike, to do anything and she just took it all away," Austin's aunt said, reports WKEF.
Ritchie is currently facing a charge of felony child endangering, and will be charged further pending test results. She is being held at the Warren County Jail in lieu of $350,000 bail.