Prosecutor: Juvenile accused in siblings deaths was trying to ‘free them from some sort of hell’

Mother says threats from boyfriend caused son to kill siblings

RIPLEY COUNTY, IN (FOX19) - 23-month-old Desiree McCartney and her 11-month-old brother, Nathaniel Ritz died less than three months apart and their sibling is a suspect, Ripley County Prosecuting Attorney Ric Hertel said.

"As you see in that probable cause affidavit, there were several remarks that were made to police officers about him freeing the siblings from some sort of hell," Hertel said.

The Hamilton County Coroner's Office says Desiree's death was ruled suffocation by smothering. She died at Cincinnati Children's Hospital May 6, 2017.

Her father. Gary McCartney, said at first Desiree's death was ruled as unknown but he became suspicious after speaking with his ex-wife.

"She changed the story several times at the hospital and I had a lot of questions then about what really happened that night," said McCartney

In January, he received the death certificate that said the 23-month old was smothered by another with a towel.

McCartney says Desiree was living in the house with her teenage brother, their mother and her mother's boyfriend, the father of Nathaniel Ritz.

Nathaniel also lived in the home. His cause of death is unknown, he died July 21, 2017, just 81 days after Desiree.

"I think the formal delinquency petition that was filed on Sept. 6 sets forth some pretty awful and terrible facts about the brother first suffocating Desiree with a towel, at the time being 23-months-old, and then less than three months later, the allegations are that he suffocated his 11-month-old brother Nathaniel with a blanket or a towel as well," Hertel said.

Documents say both crimes happened in a house on Maple Street in Osgood Indiana.

"What is the motivation for someone to do something like this? Maybe the doctors who examine him can shine some light on what's going through his mind... but in my time here I'm not sure I've ever seen anything quite as disturbing and final as something like this," Hertel said.

At the juvenile's initial hearing he was read the petition alleging the two counts of murder. The judge ordered a competency hearing.

He will be evaluated by two doctors who will give reports to the court and the court will make a decision whether he is competent to stand trial.

The parents have not been charged in the case.

The teen is being held at a juvenile facility in Dearborn County.

The investigations are still ongoing.

Watch the news conference with Ripley County Prosecuting Attorney Ric Hertel:

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