Father indicted in son's scalding water death

Posted: 11:32 AM, May 23, 2016
Updated: 2016-05-23 17:59:26-04

WARREN COUNTY, Ohio -- Robert Ritchie, father of 4-year-old Austin who died after his stepmother put his legs in scalding hot water, was indicted on involuntary manslaughter and endangering children charges Monday, 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.