CHARDON, Ohio (WJW) — A jury that found a local woman guilty of the 1993 murder of her infant son known as “Geauga’s Child,” never knew that Gail Ritchey had earlier given birth to another baby that she disposed of in the same way.
FOX 8 News has obtained video of a 2019 police interrogation, during which Gail Ritchey reveals that she gave birth to the other baby in 1990 or 1991.
The police interview was conducted in 2019, when cold case investigators confronted the then 49-year-old Ritchey with new DNA evidence that pointed to her as the mother of Geauga’s Child, a newborn baby boy whose body had been placed in a garbage bag, and then dumped in a wooded area of Thompson Township in 1993.
On the video, a detective with the Geauga County Sheriff’s Office tells Ritchey, “you know and I know this isn’t the only time, that there’s more times that this had happened.” The detective then asks, “how many other times did this happen?” Ritchey responds, “one other time.”
Ritchey then told the detectives that she gave birth to the first child at the home of her then boyfriend and now husband in Euclid.
“I gave birth to it in the toilet,” she said.
The detective then asks, “was it a boy or girl?”
Ritchey responds, “I don’t know.”
The detective then asks, “didn’t you want to know?”
Ritchey responded, “I never looked.”
Ritchey told the investigators that she did not know if the first child was alive at birth, the same claim she made when questioned about the 1993 birth of Geauga’s Child. She then told them, “I did the same thing, put it in a garbage bag.”
She said that she dumped then bag in a field with tall grass along Brush Avenue in Euclid. She then drew a map of exactly where she disposed of the body. One of the detectives then asked, “do you remember if that baby was ever found?” Ritchey responded, “I don’t know, I never heard.”
Later, one of the investigators asked, “did you ever think about any names for these children?” When Ritchey responded, “no,” the detective told her, “no, you didn’t want to because you didn’t want them.” Ritchey then responded, “I guess not.”
The judge that presided over Ritchey’s murder trial, decided her confession about the death of the first child would prejudice the jury, and so it was withheld from evidence.
Defense attorneys initially told the jury that Ritchey would testify during the trial, but later changed their minds. We are told that they were concerned that she might say something on the stand that would open the door for prosecutors to introduce the confession about dumping the other child.
On Monday, the jury found Ritchey guilty of killing Geauga’s Child, after about five and a half hours of deliberations.
Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand is among those who still believe the jury should have known about the earlier case.
“For the jury to hear that she was surprised that she was pregnant, and you know that she was scared, and all that other stuff, I’m sure that jury would have been out in a lot less time, had they known about this avenue,” said Sheriff Hildenbrand. “Not only once but twice, how do you do that, how do you live with yourself?”
We are told that investigators searched the area where Gail Ritchey said she dumped the body of the first baby in Euclid, but were unable to find any remains. As a result, she has not been charged with a crime in that case.
Ritchey could face life in prison with eligibility for parole in 15 years, when she is sentenced for the murder of Geauga’s Child.