A newborn was dumped in a garbage bag along the road lining the woods in 1993. Nobody knew the baby’s name or who were the parents. It took decades until the baby was identified and the mom charged.
Now, the woman who left “Geauga’s Child” abandoned on the road faces the possibility of life behind bars.
This month, a jury in Ohio convicted Gail Eastwood Ritchey of murder in connection to the case, according to the Associated Press. She was acquitted of an aggravated murder charge. She was taken into custody after the verdict.
Sentencing has not been set, and Eastwood Ritchey faces life in prison, according to the AP.
Newspaper carriers found the body of a newborn in Thompson Township, Geauga County, Ohio, in March 1993, according to the AP. The month-old child was dumped in the woods inside a garbage bag. Animals mutilated the body and dragged it onto the road.
Community members banned together and held a funeral for the baby named “Geauga’s Child.”
It wasn’t until 2019 when DNA genealogy helped identify the child and the mom. The process involves taking DNA and comparing it to national databases to create a family tree. Once that search was complete, Eastwood Ritchey was arrested.
She later married the child’s father, and they have three adult children, according to the AP. Eastwood Ritchey also told police she disposed of another infant two years before the birth of her son.
“A newborn baby boy was born to this woman, and she literally treated him like a piece of garbage. She birthed him, threw him in a garbage bag, tied him up suffocating him, then tossed him in the woods. Didn’t even bury him. And again, listening to her interview, barely gave it a thought for 26 years," Geauga County Assistant Prosecutor Nicholas Burling said during closing arguments, according to WKYC.
The defense contended that the baby was stillborn, but the jury didn’t buy the argument.
Eastwood Ritchey said in a police interview that she realized months before giving birth that she was pregnant, according to WKYC. But she never sought care.
“The next thing I knew I was giving birth to a baby in the toilet. I didn’t know what to do,” Eastwood Ritchey said, according to WKYC. “I was scared to what my father would think. And I was scared just because [Mark and I] weren’t married.”