GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio (TCD) -- A 52-year-old woman was sentenced to life in prison this week for abandoning her dead newborn in a wooded area almost 30 years ago.
Court records show on May 24, a judge handed Gail Ritchey a life sentence with the possibility of parole after 15 years. Her case has been ongoing for nearly three years. Ritchey was indicted June 6, 2019, on charges of aggravated murder and murder for the death of her newborn child, but her case was scheduled and rescheduled several times.
On April 5, 2022, she was convicted of murder but acquitted the aggravated murder charge.
According to WJW-TV, police found the newborn, later dubbed "Geauga’s Child," deceased in the woods on March 25, 1993, and the remains had been attacked by animals. The Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office determined at the time that the baby boy was born alive but could not determine his cause of death.
Detectives used a DNA database to try to track down the mother, and a large family tree ultimately became more specific and pointed to Ritchey.
At the time of her arrest, Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand told WJW Ritchey "admitted that she had birthed the child, placed him in a trash bag and left him in a wooded area. She also admitted to a similar crime that occurred two years prior to the birth of Geauga’s Child."
According to WJW, Ritchey was 22 years old when she gave birth to Geauga’s Child. She reportedly told investigators she gave birth while sitting on the toilet, then placed him in a bag.
She said, "I took the bag out of the trunk, and I laid it in the woods. I don’t remember it making any noise."
Judge David Ondrey said at the sentencing hearing, "There are, according to you, two infants who have been tossed away because you couldn’t face your problems and fears as a young woman and find a proper solution. That is indeed monstrous behavior and you, therefore, deserve this long prison sentence."