Prosecutor: Dad didn't check on scalded son for 15 hours

Father speaks out after young son's death
Published: May. 23, 2016 at 3:23 PM EDT|Updated: May. 23, 2016 at 10:00 PM EDT
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Austin Cooper (PHOTO: Facebook)
Austin Cooper (PHOTO: Facebook)
Robert Ritchie's mugshot (Photo: Warren County Jail)
Robert Ritchie's mugshot (Photo: Warren County Jail)

WARREN COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - A Franklin father knew his son had been dipped in scalding water, but did nothing about the child's injuries for hours, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell claims.

Robert Ritchie was arrested and charged with involuntary manslaughter and endangering children Monday.

Ritchie's wife, Anna, is accused of dipping her step son's legs in hot water as a punishment. She was charged with murder shortly after 4-year-old Austin Cooper's death.

Ritchie was at work at the time of the March 15 incident. Prosecutors say Ritchie knew Cooper had been burned, but never went into the boy's bedroom to check on his injuries.

Cooper was found unresponsive the next morning.

"He did not lay eyes on his child for 15 hours and did not seek medical treatment for the child. And as a result of that decision, the child is dead," said Fornshell.

Fornshell said Cooper would likely be alive had he received medical treatment within four to eight hours. The Warren County Coroner's Office ruled the boy died from Hypovolemic shock - the loss of blood and fluid.

[Related: Father speaks out after son's death: 'He was so young, so innocent. Just why?]

Franklin police say Anna Ritchie admitted to dipping Cooper's legs in scalding water as punishment before dressing him in pajamas and socks then sending him to bed at 4:30 p.m.

Fornshell said investigators believe the boy was in the 134-degree water in a bathtub for 20 to 25 minutes. His skin was falling off and he was bleeding when he was removed.

In an interview with WDTN, Robert claimed his son was already in bed when he got home from work on March 15. He said he found Austin unresponsive the next morning and called 911.

The prosecutor's office waited to send Ritchie's case to a grand jury as to not "taint" jury members with evidence from Anna Ritchie's indictment.

Anna's trial date was set for Sept. 26. She faces 15 years to life in prison.

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