$250K bond for dad in son's scalding water death

Posted at 9:36 AM, May 25, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-25 12:45:11-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- The father of a boy who died after his legs were placed in scalding hot water appeared in court for arraignment Wednesday and a judge set a $250,000 bond for the man.

Robert Ritchie, father of 4-year-old Austin Cooper, was indicted Monday on charges of involuntary manslaughter and endangering children charges, according to Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell.

Ritchie's wife Anna -- Austin's stepmother -- admitted to putting her stepson's legs in a bathtub full of burning hot water as a punishment on March 15, 2016. A prosecutor in Anna Ritchie's case said she "resented becoming the primary caregiver."

Fornshell said Austin would have survived if given IV fluids.


"He was aware that the child had been burned and scalded, and was blistering as a result," Fornshell said. "He was aware that there was some level of bleeding as a result of the scalding, but he never went to check on the child to determine the extent of his injuries.

Robert Ritchie called 911 after finding the boy in bed the next morning.

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

The coroner ruled the death a homicide, saying Austin died from third-degree burns after his legs were placed in "scalding hot water."

Anna Ritchie was charged with two counts of murder and faces six charges total.