What detectives seized after boy was scalded

Posted at 4:53 PM, Apr 26, 2016
and last updated 2016-04-26 18:35:32-04

WARREN COUNTY, Ohio -- Bath towels, pajamas, a drain trap and wash rags were among the items detectives seized from the home where officials allege Anna Ritchie held her stepson in a bathtub of scalding water, burning him so severely skin fell away from his legs.

Austin Cooper, 4, died of hypovolemic shock, or loss of blood and fluid, according to the Warren County Prosecutor's Office.

Police began building their case against Ritchie just hours after Austin's father found him dead in their Franklin, Ohio home at about 9:30 a.m. March 16, WCPO media partner the Journal-News reported.

Later that afternoon, investigators got four search warrants for the home. In an affidavit, Detective Jeff Stewart wrote that Ritchie told him "when she finally brought Austin out of the tub of hot water, she observed skin from Austin's legs in the bath water," the Journal-News reported. "Ritchie also described seeing the tops of Austin’s feet bleeding."

Detectives took medication from the home's bathroom, including Claritin, children’s allergy medication, an empty bottle of oxycodone and muscle relaxers. Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell told the Journal-News it doesn't appear any pain medication was given to Austin.

They also took water temperatures from the tub.

Also seized:

  • two bath towels
  • a pair of pajama bottoms from the hallway clothes basket
  • a wash rag from the clothes basket
  • the bathtub drain
  • plumbing and bathtub trap
  • bedspread from baby crib in child’s room
  • green blanket from child’s crib
  • two wash rags from the tub
  • a crib bumper pad
  • seven stuffed toys from crib
  • a large “Pooh” stuffed bear

Fornshell has said Ritchie "resented becoming the primary caregiver" and had "a rough parenting style."

The water in the bathtub was 134 degrees, Fornshell said. Austin had a "95 percent survival rate" had he been taken to a hospital, Fornshell said, but instead, investigators allege Ritchie put him to bed. That's where his father found him not breathing.

“I think my son died,” the father said on a 911 call. “He got into a hot bath last night with my wife and she thought he’d be OK.”

Ritchie is charged with two counts of murder, felonious assault, involuntary manslaughter and two counts of endangering children.


An attorney representing Ritchie entered a not-guilty plea on her behalf last week. She's scheduled for trial Sept. 26.