Saturday 20th July 2019

Murder Charge For Stepmom In Scalding Death

- April 19, 2016

A woman accused of killing her four-year-old stepson by using scalding hot water to punish him has been charged with murder.

Anna Ritchie, 25, was arrested last month after her stepson Austin Cooper was found unresponsive in his bed and later died in hospital.

Authorities said Ritchie put the boy’s legs in water estimated to be 130F (54C) for at least 20 minutes as a form of punishment.

Prosecutor David Fornshell said Austin was bleeding and some skin had come off his legs when Ritchie put him to bed without treatment on 15 March.

He was found not breathing the following morning and taken to hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Investigators said they found fingernail marks on Austin’s arms from where Ritchie held him in the water.

Officials said the boy died of shock from blood and fluid loss resulting from his burns.

Mr Fornshell told reporters that he believes Ritchie resented becoming the boy’s primary caregiver after her husband was awarded custody in January.

The boy’s father has not been charged.

Ritchie faces multiple charges, including murder, involuntary manslaughter, felonious assault and endangering children.

She is due to appear in court on 20 April.

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