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New Development, Twist in Mystery of 'Geauga's Child'

Gail Eastwood-Ritchey charged with murder after DNA hunt
By Newser Editors,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 10, 2019 9:30 AM CDT
Updated Jun 15, 2019 11:30 AM CDT
Newborn Found in 1993. Now, Murder Charges
An image of the abandoned infant's grave, from a report by WKYC Channel 3.   (YouTube)

(Newser) – It's yet another cold case apparently cracked thanks to an ancestry website that collected people's DNA. This time, it involves a dead newborn found in a trash bag along an Ohio road in 1993. The baby's mother, 49-year-old Gail Eastwood-Ritchey, now faces murder charges, but the case has a grim surprise: Police say Eastwood-Ritchey admitted abandoning another infant two years prior, and authorities are searching for that baby, too. The details:

  • The discovery: On March 25, 1993, the newborn's body was found by the side of a road in Geauga County, Ohio, reports News 5 Cleveland. Authorities say he was alive at birth, then left in the woods in a trash bag. Animals are believed to have partially dismembered the baby and dragged the bag near the road.
  • 'Geauga's Child': The rattled community buried the child with a gravestone marked "Geauga's Child," with details on his death. People have continued to visit and leave flowers all these years, but police had no leads.

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  • The arrest: Last week, Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand said investigators determined that Eastwood-Ritchey of Euclid, Ohio, was the child's mother, thanks to the unnamed online database, reports the Geauga County Maple Leaf. Eastwood-Ritchey, who has three grown children, is now in custody facing charges of murder and aggravated murder.
  • The surprise: The Washington Post says the most shocking of the new details is that Eastwood-Ritchey admitted leaving another newborn for dead in 1991, and authorities are investigating. "She gave us a pretty specific area where she had taken the first baby," says the sheriff. "That was 30 years ago and there's no evidence there."
  • The father: Authorities say Eastwood-Ritchey's husband is the father of the newborn found in 1993. His name hasn't been disclosed, and police are still investigating whether he had any involvement, reports Cleveland.com.
  • No remorse: "Her reaction was that she had not even thought about this until we brought it up," says the sheriff of Eastwood-Ritchey, per News 5. "She had completely put it out of her mind. She always referred to the baby as 'it.' She really had no emotions as far as that's concerned."
  • A haunted deputy: Retired sheriff's office Detective Thomas Dewey was the first deputy on the scene when the child was found. "I periodically would stop down at the gravesite and tell the kid, 'I'm sorry this happened to you and I'm trying to do what I can to find [your] mother to find out why it happened to you." He thought it was hopeless—until the new break. "I went down to the cemetery and I put a flower on the kid's grave and told him, 'Little guy, we found your mother and I hope to make her pay,'" he tells the Maple Leaf.
(Read more cold cases stories.)

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