A heartless stepmother killed her 4-year-old Ohio son by holding his legs in extra-hot water as punishment because he didn't like baths and then tried to hide his burns. According to detectives, the death of Austin Cooper was ruled a homicide after evidence in the case emerged. Det. Jeff Stewart was filmed by ABC 22 in court saying, referring to Anna Ritchie: 'She indicated that she ran the water a little hotter than usual as sort of a punishment.' Stewart told the court that Ritchie told police she held the boy for about 25 minutes in the tub. He was filmed testifying: 'She observed skin from Austin's legs in the bath water, uh, his legs to be red appearing to be sunburnt and the tops of his feet to be bleeding. 'She described his legs not looking as bad as his feet. 'She also described Austin screaming and telling her the water was hot.'
The Franklin detective testified Friday that Ritchie told police she put ointment and socks on the boy to hide burns, Dailymail reports. He was filmed by ABC 22 saying: 'She indicated she put socks on his feet because she really didn't want Austin's father seeing the injuries and she had concerns about Austin getting blood on his bed clothes.'
The investigator said Ritchie admitted later hearing Austin crying but ignored his distress and told his father not to check on him that night. A not-guilty plea was entered earlier for Ritchie on a child endangering charge.
A message left for Ritchie's attorney by the AP hasn't been returned. ABC 22 reported she is in jail on $350,000 bond. A grand jury will consider the case.
Warren County Coroner's Investigator Doyle Burke told the Hamilton-Middletown Journal-News the boy had third-degree burns. Burke said: 'The fact is this kid would be alive if it wasn't for the injuries.'