Stepmother Accused of Dipping 4-Year-Old Boy’s Legs in Scalding Water for 25 Minutes

The Ohio woman who was accused of dipping her 4-year-old stepson’s legs in scalding bathwater for 25 minutes was arraigned in Franklin Municipal court Friday.

Officers stated that Anna Ritchie, 25, ran the bath water much hotter than usual for her stepson’s bath as punishment before holding 4-year-old Austin in the tub for 25 minutes, according to WKEF-TV.

“She observed skin from Austin’s legs in the bath water, uh, his legs to be red appearing to be sunburnt and the tops of his feet to be bleeding,” said Officer Jeff Stewart with the Franklin Police Department, according to WKEF. “She described his legs not looking as bad as his feet. She also described Austin screaming and telling her the water was hot.”

After removing her stepson from the tub, Ritchie allegedly put ointment and socks on his feet before sending him to bed at 5 p.m., according to WXIX-TV. No one checked on Austin until 9 a.m. the next morning.

“She indicated she put socks on his feet because she really didn’t want Austin’s father seeing the injuries and she had concerns about Austin getting blood on his bed clothes,” Steward told WKEF. “She advised Austin’s father that she had burned him and however advised Austin’s father not to check on him ’cause she did not want him waking up and have to deal with him after that. So his father did not wake him up.” 

Austin cried for two or three hours after he was put to bed, according to WXIX, and he was dead before he was able to receive any medical assistance the next morning.

Ritchie has been charged with endangering children, although the authorities indicated that additional charges may be pending, WXIX reported. She currently is being held on $350,000 bond, where she awaits the grand jury’s decision.

“She should never be able to go out and enjoy anything because my nephew never got the chance to meet his first best friend or ride a bike, to do anything and she just took it all away,” said Austin’s great aunt, Missy True, according to WKEF.

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