Woman charged in 1993 murder of newborn found dead in Ohio woods

GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio -- Authorities arrested a woman in Ohio after making a break in the 1993 cold case murder of a newborn baby. Now, investigators say the suspect has admitted to killing another infant.

On March 29, 1993, police found a newborn baby boy dead in the woods. He had been mauled by animals.

At that time, the child was sent to the Cuyahoga County Coroner’s Office where they confirmed he had been born alive, but could not determine how he died.

Members of the community came forward and had handmade clothing made for the child’s funeral and burial.

He was referred to as “Geauga’s Child” on his gravestone. He was memorialized in a cemetery and, to this day, community members care for his grave, leaving gifts and flowers.

For 26 years, authorities had been following up on all leads in the case.

In September, the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office identified distant family members of Geauga’s Child.

Detectives compared DNA voluntarily submitted to a database to help identify the mother.

Officials started with a 14,000-person family tree and interviewed potential family members across the country and the world before narrowing the search down and tracing the DNA to a local woman.

They then issued a search warrant for Gail Eastwood-Ritchey’s DNA that ultimately confirmed the 49-year-old Euclid woman was the baby’s mother.

Ritchey allegedly admitted that she had birthed the child, placed him in a trash bag and dumped him.

Authorities say she also admitted to a similar crime that occurred two years before the discovery of Geauga’s Child.

Officers have searched the area she allegedly dumped that child and did not find evidence. They are continuing their investigation.

Ritchey has been charged with one count aggravated murder and one count of murder.

She was arrested Thursday and taken to the Geauga County Jail. She will be arraigned in Common Pleas Court on Friday or Monday.

Ritchey is currently married to the infant’s father and has three adult children.

Officials say Ritchey shows no remorse and takes no ownership of the infant. For this reason, he will continue to rest in the cemetery identified as Geauga’s Child.

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