‘Pure evil’ stepmother charged in 4-year-old’s death after allegedly forcing him into scalding water

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***Editor’s note: The details in the article are disturbing***

FRANKLIN, Ohio — An Ohio woman is facing charges after authorities say her 4-year-old stepson died from being scalded in a bathtub.

Last week, Robert Ritchie III called 911 after waking up to find that his son, Austin Derreck Cooper, wasn’t breathing.

The Cincinnati Enquirer reported that Ritchie sobbed into the phone when he told the dispatcher: “I think my son died.”

When the dispatcher asked Ritchie if he could start CPR on the child, he responded: “He is stiff as a board.”

The coroner said Austin died from third-degree burns after being placed in “scalding hot water,” according to WCPO. Austin’s death has been ruled a homicide.

On Monday, Warren County prosecutor David Fornshell announced that Austin’s stepmother, Anna Ritchie, has been indicted on charges of murder, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault and endangering children.

In a news conference, Fornshell said, Anna Ritchie is accused of placing the 4-year-old’s legs into approximately 134-degree water for 20-25 minutes.

“By all accounts, Austin didn’t like taking baths — no 4-year-old does — but on this particular occasion, in order to teach him a lesson — she decided to run scalding water in the bathtub,” Fornshell said in the news conference.

Austin’s grandmother, Sheri Gredig, told WCPO, “Anna Ritchie is pure evil.”

“She deserves to spend the rest of her life in prison, if not the death penalty,” Gredig added.

Ritchie will be arraigned Wednesday morning.

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