Grand jury indicts stepmother for murder in fatal child scalding case

Published: Apr. 18, 2016 at 11:46 AM EDT|Updated: Apr. 18, 2016 at 9:45 PM EDT
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Austin Cooper (Photo: Facebook)
Austin Cooper (Photo: Facebook)

LEBANON, OH (FOX19) - A Franklin woman accused of scalding her 4-year-old stepson last month was indicted on six counts, including two murder charges, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell announced Monday.

Prosecutor Fornshell said a Warren County grand jury indicted Anna Ritchie, 24, on charges of murder, endangering children, felonious assault and involuntary manslaughter.

Ritchie admitted to dipping Cooper's legs in a bathtub of scalding water as punishment and sending him to bed early, according to Franklin police.

Fornshell said investigators believe the water temperature was 134 degrees and Cooper was in the tub for 20-25 minutes.

When the boy was removed from the bath, Fornshell said his skin was falling off and was bleeding.  Ritchie then put him in pajamas and socks before putting him to bed at 4:30 p.m. on March 15.

No one check in on the boy until 9:30 a.m. on March 16, when his dad found him, according to Fornshell.

The boy's father called 911 the next morning and said he thought his son was dead.

The prosecutor said the Warren County coroner ruled Hypovolemic shock -- the loss of blood and fluid -- as Cooper's cause of death.

Fornshell says Cooper should not have died.  He says, "Had the child been administered treatment within the first few hours after this injury occurred, the child would have somewhere above a 95 percent chance of surviving."

During Monday's news conference, Fornshell said Ritchie "resented becoming the primary caregiver" to her 4-year-old stepson Austin Cooper and "recklessly endangered" him.  Cooper's dad, Robert Ritchie III,  got custody of Cooper in January.

Ritchie is held at the Warren County jail on $350,000 bond. She's due back in court on Wednesday.

FOX19 NOW will update this story throughout the day.

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