GEAUGA COUNTY, Ohio — For 26 years, investigators never gave up trying to find out who dumped a newborn baby boy, whose body was discovered in the middle of a Geauga County Road.
DNA eventually led them to the baby’s mother, who was arrested and is now behind bars.
“He would’ve been my age, I mean, justice is finally served for something that should have been solved a long time ago,” said Geauga County resident Sarah Jopko.
Jopko lives across the street from Maple Grove Cemetery in Thompson Township, where the baby known as “Geauga’s Child” is buried.
“Geauga County deputies have followed up on hundreds, if not, thousands of leads. They never gave up,” said Geauga County Sheriff Scott Hildenbrand.
On March 25, 1993, the baby’s body, with part of the umbilical cord still attached, was discovered in the middle of Sidley Road in Thompson.
Thursday afternoon, the Geauga County sheriff announced the arrest of 49-year-old Gail Eastwood Ritchey of Euclid.
“She admitted that she had birthed the child, placed him in a trash bag and left him in a wooded area. She also admitted to a similar crime that occurred two years prior to the birth of Geauga’s child,” Hildenbrand said.
Ritchey’s neighbors in Euclid said they were stunned, some devastated, to learn about the accusations against her.
They describe her as a perfect neighbor, who along with her husband, raised three other children, who are now adults.
“Why them and not this baby? What was so important in your life then that you were so selfish that you had to dump the child,” asked Jopko.
Geauga County investigators said last September, they used DNA to identify distant family members of “Geauga’s Child,” which eventually led them to Ritchey.
“To this day, even though she admitted her involvement, she shows absolutely no remorse and takes no ownership of the baby,” said the sheriff.
Investigators said Ritchey’s current husband was the father of the baby she is charged with killing.
According to Sheriff Hildenbrand, she hid the pregnancy and no one knew she was expecting a child. He also said she told investigators a specific location in Cuyahoga County where she disposed of the other baby, two years earlier. Detectives said they were unable to find any evidence.
Ritchey is scheduled to make her first appearance in Geauga County Common Pleas Court on Monday.
If convicted, she could spend the rest of her life in prison.